Mark Wethli, the A. LeRoy Greason Professor of Art, has been traveling near and far during his sabbatical this semester. Three of his works are currently being shown at Galerie Look & Listen in Saint-Chamas, France.

Running from March 21 to May 16, the show, entitled “Trames” (the French word for weft—crosswise threads on a loom), focuses on works of various media that involve woven fabrics. Wethli’s three paintings, done on handmade canvases of woven paper, are shown alongside pieces from thirteen other European and American artists.

Wethli’s three paintings, “Ghost Parade,” “You Just Haven’t See My Good Side Yet,” and “In Case You Ponderin’,” were created in 2014. They are each 10 by eight inches each and painted on woven Jaipur paper with Flashé acrylic.

“I had a number of paintings on paper that weren’t going anywhere (art speak for boring), and I suddenly wondered what they would look like if I cut them into strips and reassembled them,” wrote Wethli in an email to the Orient. 

“That turned out to be not all that interesting either, but the structure of the object caught my attention as a surface to paint on.”

A friend in New York, who knew about Wethli’s unique canvases and paintings, helped put him in touch with one of the show’s organizers, and his work was then included.

“The way I found out about the show in France is a very good example of what a sabbatical can do, and also one way in which the art world works, which is by word of mouth,” wrote Wethli.

This sabbatical and a parental leave last semester have provided Wethli time to focus on his family and his artistic career outside of Bowdoin. He is currently living in Princeton, N.J., with his wife and daughter to be closer to the art scenes in New York and Philadelphia.

“Sabbaticals are a wonderful opportunity for Bowdoin faculty to delve into our fields of interest, travel to primary resources, and strengthen our knowledge in our respective fields,” he wrote. “In my case, this has included more time in the studio and closer involvement with the art world.”

In addition to the current show in France, Wethli has been part of a group show at The Painting Center in New York and organized a show at The Curator Gallery during his leave from Bowdoin.

“My goals are simply to pursue my work, introduce more people to what I do, and establish a better understanding of current issues in contemporary painting through first-hand studio visits and conversations with curators, art dealers, and other artists,” Wethli wrote.

When he returns in the fall, he will be teaching Drawing I and Painting II.

“The benefits of this time away have a direct relationship to the classroom when faculty return to their teaching,” he wrote. “Many of the photos and mental notes that I make during my gallery visits are with my classes in mind.”

Wethli realized his potential in art in high school and has been involved with it ever since. He has taught visual arts at Bowdoin since 1985.

“During my first few years of teaching I felt a strain between my time as an artist and my time as a teacher, but a single remark by a wonderful artist, Betye Saar, gave me the answer,” he wrote. “When asked how she divided her time between her art and being a mother, she answered, ‘I didn’t.’ She found ways to make them work together to enhance both—something I look forward to applying as a parent as well.”