VHegarty_InsideVisual artist joins campus.

Valerie Hegarty’s art tells stories.

Using a variety of everyday materials, including glue, paper, paint, and cardboard, Hegarty depicts everyday objects through a hybrid of painting and sculpture, which then invokes curiosity and surprise with her finished work.

It might be a classic colonial-style wooden dresser that’s been peppered with holes artillery-style, or a painting of colorful fruit that has burst open and has been picked at by three-dimensional crows. It could show a distressed portrait of George Washington having a conversation with a Shawnee chief in a room where wild grasses grow through the remnants of a Native American rug.

Hegarty, a visual artist whose work has been displayed in New York City, London, Miami, and Houston, among other places, is bringing her unique style and voice to Drew this year as the first artist-in-residence, thanks to a major Andrew W. Mellon Foundation grant in support of Drew’s Arts and the Common Good initiative.

This fall, she’s meeting with art students, guest lecturing in classes, critiquing the work of senior students, giving talks on campus, and creating her own art. In the spring, she will co-teach a class about art and the environment in crisis with Environmental Studies and Sustainability Professor Lisa Jordan.

Hegarty says her goal is to present her audience with something unexpected and, in the process, to get them to take a second look at the familiar—whether it is events in American history or environmental degradation.

Kim Rhodes, professor of art history and director of the Arts and the Common Good initiative, said Hegarty will help bring the goals of the Mellon Foundation grant to the Drew campus, which are “to foster a deeper, more multidimensional relationship between the arts and non-arts disciplines at Drew, leading to a curriculum in which the arts play a central, formative role.

Since arriving on campus in the summer, Hegarty has settled into her studio in Room 104 of Brothers College, where paper, modeling clay, and watercolors dot the room. She said she is still meeting students and faculty and has been asked to guest lecture in some non-art classes in the spring. Hegarty said she loves the natural beauty of Drew’s campus, and she is especially impressed by the devotion students have to the environment, which she says is likely to influence the current direction of her art.

“It seems very friendly and very open,” she said of Drew’s community. “I’d like to facilitate interest [in art] across the disciplines with a whole range of approaches to different subjects and help students with their ideas.”—Elizabeth Moore