Drawing from a myriad of media, Lecturer of Visual Art Nestor Gil and Assistant Professor of Art Carrie Scanga, this years' new members of Bowdoin's Visual Art department, create invigorating, physically present and engaging art. Gil's piece, "Azucar," sculpted from various materials including salt and abandoned boat pieces, is currently on display at the Coleman Burke Gallery in Portland. Scanga's installation, "View From High Places," is being exhibited at the Philadelphia gallery Tiger Strikes Asteroid as part of Philagrafika 2010, an international printmaking festival currently taking place in Philadelphia.

Gil is teaching Sculpture II this semester and taught Sculpture I this past fall. Upon coming to Bowdoin, Gil brought new insight gained from a career filled with creative thought, innovation and teaching.

The son of Cuban immigrants, Gil spoke of the challenges and opportunities that came from growing up a "hyphenated American" with the sense that "where you belong is a place you can't go and where you are is a place that you don't belong." These questions of identity are an integral part of his work today.

Throughout his twenties Gil self-identified as a writer, creating poetry that he contributed to literary publications and transformed into performance art through spoken word. It was during his time at the New College of Florida, a small liberal arts college in Sarasota, FL, that he experienced his "first flirtations with visual art" and the idea of hybridizing music, word and the visual. Struck by the immediacy of the visual arts, particularly through performance art, Gil shifted his focus away from writing.

The themes of his work, however, remain constant. Regardless of the form it takes, his work adresses "ideas of memory, identity and community" and he seeks to "engage the community in which [he] lives."

Though Gil's current work is more visual than written, he sees the validity of each medium for different purposes and settings.

After leaving the New College, Gil taught English in high schools, jails and Upward Bound programs while still working on performance art that combined visual art, spoken word and music. Realizing a desire to push his creative work further, Gil attended graduate school at the University of North Carolina where he focused his attention on studio art and emerged with what he calls a "more fleshed out picture" of his own artistic process, before coming to his current work as a post-doctoral fellow at Bowdoin.

Gil's "Azucar" is an example of this artistic process. Concepts drive his work, and each of his projects moves through different incarnations as he draws from conversations with others—both artists and non-artists—as he works and reworks his ideas.

Looking retrospectively at his process when creating "Azucar," Gil explained that, rather than stumbling upon an abandoned boat and conceiving the concept for the exhibit, he drew from his experiences with "the jagged side of immigration," to envision an installation involving a boat and salt. Unsure of exactly how his ideas would manifest themselves, he nonetheless purchased a wooden rowboat and then set about formalizing his tangle of ideas.

In its final evolution, his site-specific installation for Coleman Burke consists of a white picket fence that bisects the gallery space, cutting through the boat and holding it up at a seemingly improbable angle.

Spilling from the helm of the boat in a mixture of smooth slopes and clumped pieces is a small mountain of salt, trailing across the open space. A. LeRoy Greason Professor of Art Mark Wethli and co-curator of Coleman Burke, invited Gil to create the piece.

The synopsis on the Coleman Burke Web site notes the universality of Gil's work, pointing out that it "evokes the physical, psychological and psychic disruptions brought about by immigration, both in the literal sense of moving from one place to another and in the symbolic sense that underlies personal quests and transitions of all kinds."

Miles away in Philadelphia, new work by Assistant Professor of Art Carrie Scanga that also embodies themes of multidimensionality is currently on exhibit.

Scanga incorporates both two-dimensional and three-dimensional components and combines a variation of influences from Shaker drawings to the work of contemporary photographer Mario Giacomelli.

The work is part of Philagraphika 2010, a several month-long festival of contemporary print art, which includes the work of more than 300 artists in 80 different venues to create "one of the largest art events in the United States and the world's most important print related exposition" according to the event's Web site.

Guided by a studio work ethic that "swings between play and work," Scanga created the installation by creating hollow brick-like forms out of tracing paper.

These paper bricks are printed with a drypoint intaglio technique and combined to form a glowing structure with a single window.

Joining the form is a large 14-foot-by-8-foot drypoint print hanging on the wall.

Alex Rehault, chair of the illustration department at the Maine College of Art noted, "Scanga messes with being and perceptions of existence.

She invites us into a metaphorical dwelling or experience of dwelling, where we confront subliminal light, the frailty of temporality, and our shifting bodies."

The "play" in her work ethic that Scanga speaks of is the "activation of the creative inventor within" her, while the "work" relates to the more tedious elements of her art, for instance the repetitive process of creating hundreds of brick-like forms to create the whole. Summing up her work, Scanga calls it "an inquiry about somatic experience of architectural space."

Scanga entered the art world after finding that the greatest challenges she faced in college came in her Visual Arts courses.

Knowing that as an artist she would have to "not only seek answers to questions but also define the questions themselves" Scanga embarked on the process of making new questions to drive her creative process.

Coming to Bowdoin this fall to teach printmaking, drawing and senior studio courses, Scanga emphasized her love for the collaborative nature of teaching. "[It] opens my mind. To empathize with the mental processes of so many different individuals can't help but expand a person."

Nestor Gil's "Azucar" is showing thrugh March 12 at the Coleman Burke Gallery @ Pot City Music Hall in Portland,Maine.

Carrie Scanga's "View From High Places" is showing through February 26 at Tiger Strikes Asteroid in Philadelphia, Pennsylvania.