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UNH studio artists make an 'IMPACT' on Seacoast

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DURHAM — Sachiko Akiyama’s softly hewn sculptures speak volumes.

Drawing on nature and her Japanese heritage, Akiyama crafts figures that have a quietness, but aren’t delicate; they are sturdy, solid and have a strong presence.

Akiyama, who is assistant professor of sculpture at the University of New Hampshire (UNH) and based in Portsmouth, is one of three artists being highlighted in “IMPACT,” an exhibit opening Friday and running through May 17 at the Museum of Art on campus.

The showcase celebrates the 2018 recipients of the Piscataqua Region Artist Advancement Grant given by the New Hampshire Charitable Foundation, and is a window into the studio art program at UNH.

Work by Akiyama, who earned top honors in the grant program, will be shown along with those by finalists Tara Lewis, who earned a bachelor of arts in 1992 and is a professor and chair of the department of art at Phillips Exeter Academy, and Jocelyn Toffic, who earned her degree in 2007. Lewis and Toffic each paint women engaged in myth-making with fascinating stories to tell.

Akiyama is best known for sculptures that combine hand-carved wood forms with materials such as clay, resin and metal. Her work is in the permanent collections of Decordova Museum and Sculpture Park (Lincoln, Mass.) and Gordon College (Wenthem, Mass.), and she has exhibited work in the United States and abroad.

Lewis is a multidiscipline artist whose paintings and photographs that dive into youth culture anthropology with a pop twist. Her large-scale oil portraits of models wearing T-shirts, pageant sashes and other wearables as a view into perceptions of youth, irreverence, beauty, identity, teen trends and empowerment.

Toffic, of Dover, received her bachelor of art’s degree from UNH, and her work has been featured in solo and group shows at the WB Gallery (Dover), BUOY Gallery (Kittery, Maine) and Trestle Gallery (Brooklyn.) Her work is held in permanent collections such as the Icelandic Phallological Museum, and she earned best in show at the 1000 Market Gallery Mid-Summer Show.

A reception will be from 6 to 8 p.m. Friday. In addition, Akiyama will give an artist’s talk at 12:10 Wednesday, April 17, and Lewis and Toffic will speak at 12:10 p.m. Wednesday, May 8. For details, call 862-3712 or visit