Works of Student, Professor Highlight Arts Garage Exhibits

Stockton University Visual Arts studetn Maryn Olson

Stockton University Visual Arts major Maryn Olson sits in a studio with some of her artwork that will be on display at the Noyes Arts Garage of Stockton University until April 28. Olson, from Mays Landing, suffered a traumatic brain injury when she was 21.

Atlantic City, N.J. — Three unique exhibits — including one by a Stockton University student recovering from a traumatic brain injury and another by a self-taught, Philadelphia-area artist known for creating large-scale sculptures — debuted this week at the Noyes Arts Garage of Stockton University.

The exhibits by Maryn Olson and Kambel Smith are paired with a photography exhibit by Stockton Visual Arts Adjunct Professor Joseph Podlesnik titled “The Pain, Boredom and Euphoria of Looking.” An opening reception for all three exhibits will be held at the Arts Garage from 1 to 3 p.m. on Saturday, April 13. Olson’s exhibit will run until April 28, while the displays by Smith and Podlesnik will be at the Arts Garage until June 23.

Olson’s artwork has been part of her healing process from a traumatic brain injury (TBI) she suffered at 21 after falling from a skateboard in upstate New York. The fall caused a cranial hemorrhage, a brain contusion and several broken neck bones. The Visual Arts major from Mays Landing also suffered a stroke while she was treated at the hospital. After several surgeries, Olson struggled to stand up and move her left side. She has spent several months in physical, occupational recreational and speech therapy.

“Since the beginning of this journey, it has been a wild roller coaster of highs and lows,” she said. “Art making has always been an interest of mine since I was little, but it never benefited me as much as it does as I heal from my TBI. I can paint my frustrations and sadness away.”

"Reminder" by Joseph Podlesnik'Reminder' is one of the photographs by Stockton Visual Arts Adjunct Professor Joseph Podlesnik that will be on display until June 23.

Smith has had no formal training in art or architecture, and his sculptures, created primarily out of found materials such as cardboard or foam, feature representations structures like the Liberty Bell and the Benjamin Franklin Bridge in Philadelphia. He was diagnosed with autism as a teenager and began making art to express his worldview. But he instead likes to call himself an autisarian, or a person born with abilities due to autism.

“Although my journey has been a complicated one, it gives me peace of mind and heart to realize I have always been an artist,” he said. “By using works of art to express how I see the world, I hope to impact the way others see it as well.”

Podlesnik lives in Phoenix and exhibits his work nationally and internationally. In addition to teaching at Stockton, he is Facilitator Lead for the Digital Photography Cornell Certificate Program.

He said the Arts Garage’s exhibit of color and black and while photos involves “some personal physical discomfort, degrees of boredom and the euphoria I experience while capturing photographs and exploring their effects in post-processing.”

“For me, the camera lens depicts perspective too easily, which is why I capture and develop photographs that often frustrate readable perspectival space,” he said.

All of the exhibits are free and open to the public. The Noyes Garage, 2200 Fairmount Ave., in Atlantic City is open from 11 a.m. to 6 p.m. Wednesday to Sunday. For more information, go to or call 609-626-3805.

- Story by Mark Melhorn. Top photo by Susan Allen

Kambel Smith Benjamin Franklin Bridge

Kambel Smith's sculpture of the Benjamin Franklin Bridge is on display at the Noyes Arts Garage of Stockton University until June 23.