Exhibit Celebrates the Life of an Artist and Student

April 29-May 22 at Ann Foxworthy Gallery

Ian HassettAPRIL 24, 2013 -- In the seven short years from the time he first picked up a drawing pencil at age 12 until the day before his death, Ian Hassett created beautiful artwork.  His life’s work and legacy will be displayed in an exhibit titled “A Lifetime of Art: Remembering Ian Hassett,” from April 29 through May 22 in the Ann Foxworthy Gallery on Allan Hancock College’s Santa Maria campus.  The public is invited to a special reception on Thursday, May 2, from 5:30 to 7:30 p.m.

“Ian’s art spirit and his passion for life came to light in his work,” said Marti Fast, art gallery director and one of Ian’s instructors at Hancock.  “I saw in his work a mature artist who would make a big impact in 10 years, one who set the bar for everyone.”

Ian had just enrolled in his first semester as an art major at Hancock when he was diagnosed with lymphoma, according to his mother Stefanie Hassett.  Art classes provided an outlet and a distraction for Ian during his illness, she said.

“He would work in all different kinds of media,” she said.  “He would do something, conquer it and then move on to the next challenge.”

Ian drew, painted and, toward the end of his life, created sculpture, which he gained an appreciation for after taking a ceramics class at Hancock.  Ian’s largest sculpture, “Worshipping,” will be a focus of the exhibit.  The piece was Ian’s first foray into wood carving and is one of his most striking pieces, Fast said.

“He had never carved wood before, but he created articulated, beautiful hands,” she said.

Fast said that she knew Ian was special when he brought his first self-portraits into her life drawing class.  The strong, inward-looking studies blew her away, she said.

“You only have a student like Ian come along ever so rarely,” Fast said.  “Whatever he learned fed everything else he knew and was funneled into his work.”

One of those self-portraits “Self Portrait Space” was created by Ian toward the end of his chemotherapy treatments.  The chalk drawing shows Ian, his head bald and eyes closed, with a blue celestial sky above him and a dark brown cloud enveloping his neck.

“Ian didn’t name many of his pieces and he didn’t like to write descriptions, preferring to let people come to their own conclusions about his work,” Stefanie said.  “But it’s hard not to interpret the brown cloud as the cancer consuming him.”

As Ian’s illness progressed it became increasingly difficult for him to sit at an easel, but he continued to create art.  Two months before his death, Ian’s family held a fundraiser to buy him a Wacom Cintiq, an interactive pen display that would allow him to draw directly on an LCD screen.

Digital drawing was a medium he had yet to conquer, Stefanie said, and he was excited to get started.  Unfortunately Ian was only able to use the Cintiq for a few weeks before passing away in June 2012.  Stefanie and her husband Eric decided to donate the interactive pen display to Allan Hancock College.

“We felt that he had such a wonderful experience at Hancock, why give the Cintiq to one person when so many students could benefit from it,” she said.

The interactive pen display was placed in the graphics program and is mainly used in the digital imagery and digital illustration classes, according to graphic design instructor Nancy Jo Ward.  The Cintiq is set up at a station for disabled students who may not be able to use traditional drawing programs, she said.  If there are no disabled students in the class, Ward allows her advanced students to use the Cintiq.

“The students practically fight over it,” she said. “It’s working out so well that I’ve put in a request for funds to purchase more of them for the department.”

In addition to donating the Cintiq, the Hassetts have created the Ian Hassett Memorial Art Scholarship at Righetti High School in Ian’s honor and to support students who want to pursue art.

“Ian was at the top of his class, he could have done anything he wanted but art was his passion,” Stefanie said.  “If anything good can come of all of this, I hope other students know that they should find their passion and stick to it no matter what, even if you have cancer.”

That message has already reached Karly Nickell, a Hancock art student and friend of Ian’s.  Nickell assisted Fast in setting up Ian’s exhibit and said she hoped that students especially would come and see his work.

“Ian taught me to be more daring and to not hold back in my own artwork,” Nickell said.  “He really set out to do what he wanted to do and didn’t let any challenge get in his way.”

The Foxworthy Gallery is located inside the Academic Resource Center, Bldg. L-South, in the heart of the Santa Maria campus.  It is open Monday-Thursday from 9 a.m.to 7:30 p.m. and Friday from 9 a.m. to 3 p.m.  The gallery is closed weekends and school holidays.  For more information, contact the fine arts department at 922-6966 ext. 3252, or Fast at ext. 3465.

- AHC -

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Last Modified May 2, 2014