A Deering, N.H. family, long-term friends of renowned artist Karl Drerup, has donated a valuable Drerup enamel to PSU. Larry, Pia, and Martha Sunderland presented the large enamel-on-metal piece to PSU Dec. 16. Larry Sunderland said he was impressed with previous exhibits of Drerup’s work at the University and felt PSU was the appropriate home.
“It’s been sitting hidden away for quite a few years,” said Sunderland. “Here is the perfect place, in the gallery named after Karl Drerup, with perhaps the largest single piece that represents a time of his experimentation with enamels. It was made for the 1939-40 World’s Fair in New York, and this just seemed to be the ideal resting place.”
Karl Drerup was Plymouth State’s first art professor and worked at the institution for 20 years before retiring in 1968. He is recognized as one of the world’s leading figures in twentieth-century enameling. PSU President Sara Jayne Steen said the Sunderland’s gift is impressive.
“I want to thank the Sunderlands for their extraordinary generosity. This piece is spectacular, and having it on display will not only benefit our students, but also everyone who visits this gallery,” Steen said. “It gives us an opportunity to teach about Karl Drerup and share the gift of his art.”
The Sunderland’s connection with Karl Drerup goes back over six decades, starting in Rockville Centre, N.Y. Larry Sunderland’s parents befriended Drerup and his wife Gertrude in the late 1930s, when the Drerups first moved to the United States. Their friendship continued after the Drerups moved north to New Hampshire in 1945.
The piece had long been displayed on the wall of Larry Sunderland’s father’s clothing manufacturing office in New York City, and was preserved only because Larry insisted it be pried from the wall after his father’s death. Pia Sunderland said the family could not display it in their home because of its size, but they wanted it exhibited.
“It’s the best thing we could have done with it,” said Sunderland.
Catherine Amidon, Director of the Karl Drerup gallery, said the piece is significant because it is one of Drerup’s earlier enamel-on-metal works and the connection with the World’s Fair makes it especially interesting.
“It’s a particularly significant piece, because it’s a bridge between what he was doing in Europe and what he would later be doing in the United States,” Amidon said.
“Stylistically, it has more affinity with his European roots. The technique, however, of using enamel is something that he came to use in the United States. This is when he has just arrived, and he’s experimenting. The piece is extraordinary for that reason.”
Martha Sunderland, Larry and Pia’s daughter, concludes the donation to PSU makes sense for everyone who values Drerup’s artistic expertise.
“It’s really nice to see it displayed where it’s appreciated. It’s a good home for it,” Sunderland said.
For more information about this release, contact Bruce Lyndes, PSU Media Relations Mgr., (603) 535-2775 or Bruce Lyndes