“Hope is the Thing With Feathers”: Gelb Gallery Hosts Exhibit In Memoriam of Emily Trespas

Two oil paintings, one of a beaver and the other weasel hang on the walls of Gelb Gallery in G.W. Hall. Painted by the late Emily Trespas, Instructor in Art, the dark hues and muted tones colour the canvases. According to exhibition curator Mr. Zaeder ’83, Instructor and Chair in Art, the choice to include these paintings in the exhibit comes from the simple nature, reflective of Trespas’ personality and spirit. 

“Ms. Trespas has a wonderful, whimsical way of working, her work is both serious and also light hearted, woven together…[the paintings are] great studies of these two animals, and the beaver [is] standing up, and he’s looking very serious and industrious, and the weasel is in this ominous landscape. Those to me were favorites, and I felt like they really summed up her character. She always had a kind of a glint in her eye, a sense of humor about things,” said Zaeder. 

The exhibit first opened on Saturday, November 6, 2021, displaying dozens of Trespas’ artworks specifically chosen by colleagues, friends, and family. Thoughtfully selected, the show’s title connects to both Trespas’ identity as well as her work as an artist. 

“[The exhibit] is called Hope is the Thing With Feathers, which is the beginning of an Emily Dickinson quote…and Emily Trespas was named after Emily Dickinson, and they both went to Mount Holyoke College. I don’t think Emily Dickinson graduated from Mount Holyoke, but Emily Trespas did. Emily Trespas had done several works of art, in which Hope is the Thing With Feathers appears somewhere in the work,” said Zaeder. 

While studying at Mount Holyoke, Trespas focused on both painting and printmaking, but ventured beyond these two mediums during her career. According to Zaeder, accurately representing the broad range of art styles Trespas explored was chief among his considerations when curating the exhibit.

“She was fearless as an artist, and it really didn’t matter what discipline you hand her a piece of clay or some plaster, or some rubber bands and tape. She could do wonders. So this show includes some paintings, lots of prints, monoprints, lithographs, collage work, ceramics, drawing, a really full range of disciplines,” said Zaeder.

Trespas left an immense influence on students, faculty, and the Andover community during her two decades at Andover. To honor her memory, Mr. Zaeder, along with the help of others, hopes to make a virtual tour of the show in order to include the alums that were close to her. 

“For those of us that knew Ms. Trespas, [the exhibit is] a chance to celebrate her life…She obviously influenced a lot of students and their careers, their trajectory in life. A lot of those alums couldn’t come back to see the show, and there’s a fair amount [on the Andover website] about this show, but we’re hoping to have the virtual tour as another way to connect her life and her life’s work to those people that were affected profoundly by her. That was a big motivating factor to share her work with those that worked closely with her,” said Zaeder.