Bethany Professor Hosts Sabbatical Art Show

BETHANY, W.Va. — Herb Weaver, the Jennie Steindorf Renner Chair of Fine Arts and Professor of Fine Arts at Bethany College, will return to the Bethany College campus with a Sabbatical Art Show from Aug. 21 to Sept. 26 at the College’s Renner Union Art Gallery. An Artist’s Reception is scheduled from 7:30 to 9:30 p.m. on Sept. 5.

Sabbaticals are usually granted at seven-year intervals as a way for college professors to recharge their instructional batteries by giving them time to pursue research, study or travel. Weaver took full advantage of his opportunities by creating many new pieces of original sculpture, exhibiting his work at a number of shows throughout the region, conducting workshops and developing curriculum for middle and secondary schools, and earning a prestigious promotion with the College Board/Advanced Placement Program.

“The sabbatical was a wonderful experience,” Weaver said. “My wife, Anita, was able to accompany me on most of the trips so traveling to the shows was fun. It was my youngest daughter Raven’s senior year in high school so it was great to have a chance to spend some extra time with her before she went off to college. I even had a solo show at my alma mater, Eastern Mennonite University in Harrisonburg, Va., where I could reconnect with some of my old friends and teachers.”

Weaver will have approximately 40 pieces on display at Renner Union. Most of them are examples of his low-fired or polychrome ceramic sculptures. He estimated that he created about 60 new pieces of original art during his sabbatical along with nearly 1,000 pieces of pottery he classified as functional ware. The exhibit will be open from 11 a.m. to 2 p.m. and from 5-8 p.m. on weekdays, 2-6 p.m. on weekends and other times by appointment.

He took a break from the creative process to represent the College Board’s Advanced Placement (AP) Program with a presentation at the 42nd annual Conference of the National Council on Education for the Ceramic Arts. The AP Program brings together 130 high school and college teachers to grade 30,000 portfolios submitted by high school seniors each spring. Weaver’s abilities as an instructor and educator fueled his rapid rise through the ranks, which culminated this year when he was named supervisor of the entire program through 2013.

“I started out as a Reader, which is someone who grades the portfolios,” Weaver said. “Then I was a Table Leader who taught the Readers. I was an Exam Leader the last two years, supervising the Table Leaders, and I was just promoted to Chief Reader overseeing the whole operation. I will be Chief Reader Designate next year and then Chief Reader for the next four years. It’s a daunting task but I’m really looking forward to it.”

Weaver spent one week as “Artist in Residence” at McLaughlin Middle School in Lake Wales, Fla. He also spent a week at the Dana Hall School in Wellesley, Mass., developing and implemented a new curriculum for the ceramics and sculpture area. In addition, he appeared as a guest lecturer in an upper level civilization course at Bethany and created chalices and plates for the Regional Conference of the West Virginia Disciples of Christ.

 “One of the best things about sabbaticals,” Weaver said, “is waking up every morning and having the option of planning your day instead of having it already planned for you. This sabbatical has been a very rewarding experience. I have never felt so rejuvenated. It has added several years of energy to my teaching life.”

Bethany is a small college of national distinction located on a picturesque and historic 1,300-acre campus in the Northern Panhandle of West Virginia. Founded in 1840, Bethany is the oldest college in the state.