Creator of 2012 class gift exhibits in McClelland gallery

As a class gift, the senior class of 2012 commissioned a painting by Union College alumnus Randall May to hang in the lobby of the new science and mathematics complex. The four-by-five-foot piece will be unveiled after the Commencement service on May 6. Other works by May are currently on display in the McClelland Art Gallery from now until May 20.

May came to Union College his freshman year in the 1980s and studied under Jim McClelland, but was unable to return the following year for financial reasons. “I didn’t know how to seek help at the time,” said May. “Even though I didn’t graduate from Union, I’m still very fond of it and consider it my school. My children, Isaac and Olivia, are both freshmen there and there are others, such as Helena and Jamison Howard, who are like my own children.”

Jamison Howard, senior class president, asked May if he would be willing to make the senior class gift and outlined certain themes they wanted depicted. “I put some drawings together and gave them a sketch to look at,” explained May. “The people on the committee liked it and asked if I would do the painting and show my work in the gallery.”

The painting will combine elements of science and Union College, tied together with a spiritual theme. “I had a lot of input from others,” said May. “I didn’t share what I was doing with many people, but those who knew had a big impact. Isaac and Olivia both gave me ideas as it was progressing and a lot of ideas were inspired by God and given to me through others. I’ve put a lot of work into this painting, it’s an honor for me to have a piece in the new complex.”

In his works, May focuses on the brief moments in life that often pass us by. “I try to catch those little slices of life that you otherwise wouldn’t notice,” he said. “There’s a painting in the exhibit called Swirl from when my family and I were on a canoe trip. I just sat there and observed the patterns my paddle made in the water. There are things that happen around us all the time that make us happy or provoke thought that we often miss. It’s important to slow down for just a minute and take a look, otherwise we might walk past something really beautiful or interesting.”

The McClelland Art Gallery is located in the Ortner Center on the campus of Union College, 3800 S. 48th Street. Open from 8 a.m. to 5 p.m. daily, the gallery is free and open to the public. Paintings may be purchased at the Ortner Center front desk.

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