Ridley Gallery director no new face in town

Marasso did undergraduate work at Sierra
By: Amber Marra,
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Upon entering the Ridley Gallery at Sierra College, guests are greeted by a colorful offering of students, faculty and local artists commemorating those who were most important to them but have since passed on.

The Alter exhibit features works of art that look back on the lives of the people that inspired them and have been on display in the gallery since mid-October.

Along with the various takes on alters added in October, the Ridley Gallery also gained Lisa Marasso as its new director.

Marasso has taught drawing and sculpture part time at Sierra College for seven years and conducted her undergraduate work in art and women’s studies there and UC Davis in the late 1990s. She holds a Master of Fine Arts in art studio from UC Davis.

“This was kind of a coming home for me. I got my first taste of gallery work as a student here 15 years ago,” Marasso said.

As director of the Ridley Gallery, Marasso will be responsible for contacting artists, scheduling and organizing shows, arranging volunteers to operate the gallery and coordinating fundraising efforts. She will also work with the Sierra College Patrons Club and conduct community outreach.

“We’re in an area where students don’t always get the chance to access great art exhibits and this offers an opportunity to see some high caliber art right here on their own campus,” Marasso said. “It also peaks their interest and shows them how to develop professional careers past the community college setting.”

Marasso replaces former Ridley Gallery Director Jim Devore, who was in the position for six years. He stepped down last June when he went from full time teaching to part time, according to Rebecca Bocchicchio, interim dean of liberal arts at Sierra.

The gallery’s directors position pays a $15,000 stipend on top of the employee’s wages. As a part-time instructor, Marasso made $22,135 last year.

Bocchicchio said Marasso’s experience as associate director at Verge Center for the Arts in Sacramento and Headlands Center for the Arts in Sausalito paired with her energy and enthusiasm make her the perfect fit for the job.

“Lisa has just a wealth of experience and she has been heavily involved with galleries and with her own art. She impressed us as someone who is a go-getter and someone who could step in and grow the program while bringing the community in,” Bocchicchio said.

She also said despite cuts Sierra College has dealt with for the past five years, funding positions in the arts continues to be a priority.

“It’s constantly a balancing act for the district,” Bocchicchio said. “This gallery is open throughout the year and brings the community in to see the work of local artists, student artists, the art of our own faculty, and it’s used as a teaching space, as well.”

The Alter exhibit will be on display through Nov. 15 and following it will be the Holiday Art Show and Sale from Nov. 27 to Dec. 6.

Marasso also has the “Tech Know” Art Show scheduled for January and February, which will feature art from Sierra College’s career and technical programs. An African art exhibit will follow in March and April and the student art show will round out the year in April and May.

She said as director, it’s is important to bring in students for educational purposes outside of the art department.

“I would like to believe we can develop more of that interactivity and benefit from having coursework built around exhibits,” Marasso said. “I do see there being a certain amount of overlap, and not just in the art department.”

Contact Amber Marra at Follow her on Twitter @Amber_AJNews.