Art exhibit combines traditional aesthetics with contemporary practices


Courtesy/ Rome Spiniello

Death Riding Into Battle

Carter C. Brannon, Crier Staff

Students returned to Saint Anselm this August to find the Living Learning Commons filled with frogs, saints, and LGBTQ expression in the artwork in the display cases.

The LLC is displaying artwork by Andrew Freshour.  Freshour, members of the college community, and members of the Manchester community attended an opening reception for the exhibit in the LLC on the evening of September 8.  Freshour’s show is the first of two LLC exhibits for the fall semester and will last until October 3.

Most of Freshour’s artwork tells a story through characters that blend the primary church, frog, and LGBT themes.   Art history Professor Laura Elizabeth Shea, who organized the exhibit with lecturer Mark Eshbaught, thought Freshour’s skilled, playful work would celebrate this local artist.

“His work is also a celebration of gay life, and, so, I thought that it was a great show to have here at Saint Anselm,” Shea said.  “[It’s] to celebrate his skill as an artist… here in Manchester, but I also thought that it was important for students to see a combination of queer and religious subject matter together in a joyful way, and his work is just really fun.”   

“I thought, in particular, the portrayal of openly gay men displayed in the LLC is something that’s making the college campus a much more accepting and loving place,” commented philosophy Professor David Banach, who is also advisor to Saint Anselm’s True Equality and Dignity Alliance.

Based in Manchester, Freshour graduated from the New Hampshire Institute of Art in 2013. “After that, like most artists, I went into the food service industry, and I did that for a long time,” Freshour said.  “When COVID happened, I was suddenly without work, or, rather, I was furloughed, and I decided I needed to get back into art for my sanity.  ‘Cause I had nothing to do, I’m like, ‘I could watch a lot of Netflix, or I could just draw incessantly’– so that’s what I did.”

In college, Freshour was drawn to the High Church liturgy, aesthetics, rituals, and liberal views of the Episcopal Church.  Freshour likes to show traditional, neo-gothic aesthetics with contemporary liberal practices, such as female priests.  

“[I] fell in love with liturgy and how they have more liberal views, in terms of ordaining people,” Freshour said.  “Like, they’ll ordain women, LGBT people, and you don’t have to be celibate to be ordained, which are things I really appreciate.  And they have the Eucharist and all the other things that Catholicism has but in a more liberal light.

“For a while, I thought about the Episcopalian priesthood, and, then, I’m like, ‘But I wanna draw crazy things, and you can’t do that as a priest,’” Freshour said.  “I mean, you could, but I don’t want to be a secret.”

Frogs, whether in realistic or fantastical contexts, are another fun theme prevalent in many of Freshour’s works, and they have personal significance to Freshour.  His last name comes from German words for “frog meadow”, and he is greatly inspired by Arnold Lobel’s Frog and Toad illustrations he loved as a child.

Quite a few people at the opening identified the frogs as their favorites, including studio art major Steven Villanova ‘24, who especially liked “The Pondtiff,” a frog dressed as a pope. 

“It’s just adorable–just how chubby they are,” Villanova explained.  “I look at it, and I’m just speechless.  And the fact that it’s called “The Pondtiff”–like what punnery!”

The Novice and the Rose (Courtesy/ Rome Spiniello)

The exhibit was inspiring to Villanova, an aspiring illustrator himself.  He was very intrigued by Freshour’s sketchbooks on display.

“I had trouble feeling motivated to draw during COVID, so it really hits something to hear about an artist getting super motivated to draw during COVID, and, like, drawing all of this.  It’s kind of inspiring,” Villanova said.

Freshour’s portrait of Br. Celestine (Courtesy/ Rome Spiniello)

Another piece that appealed to members of the Saint Anselm community was a portrait of one of the monks, Brother Celestine Hetrick.  The two met each other when Freshour worked as Brother Celestine’s family’s favorite waiter.  The portrait is on the second floor.

“I actually didn’t know it was going to be in this show until after it was up, so it was a surprise,” Brother Celestine said.  “And I’ve actually never been in the LLC, so it’s great to come down and see [it]…It is a little strange to find a picture of me in it, as well.”

Being a local artist, Freshour had many friends and family draw to his exhibit. Like Brother Celestine, some of these other friends also saw portraits of themselves on display, but they also just enjoyed Freshour’s fun artwork.

“He’s just a beautifully talented artist. He’s very creative and unique,” praised one of Freshour’s best friends, Kara Schoen.  “[He’s] different than a lot of other people that I see.”

“Andrew and his partner, Marcus, have a great community here in Manchester, and so it was great to see community members come as well, along with monks and students, so we had a great turnout,” Shea said.  “I’m really thrilled with that: a great mix of people just celebrating his work.”