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Heartland Community College


Thrasher, by Sarah Smelser

October 16 – December 9, 2023 

Reception: Thursday, November 16, 4 - 6pm


Curatorial Statement

"Thrasher" is an exploration of the transformative journey experienced by individuals as they set forth on their own paths. It is a celebration of the boundless possibilities and mysteries that life holds, beautifully conveyed through Smelser's delicate touch, serene color palette, and elaborate details. Her works evoke the sensation of embarking on a journey using a map with its own unique coding, symbolizing the exhilarating ups and downs, excitements, and learning opportunities that life offers. Whether through the physical act of leaving the comfort of home or the metaphorical journey of personal growth and self-discovery. This series came to life when Smelser returned to her alma mater (UC Santa Cruz) for a residency and relived her pivotal moment of her college career.

In her own words, Sarah Smelser explains the significance of the exhibition's title: “A thrasher, also called a thresher, is an outdated farm machine for separating the seeds of a crop from their husks and straw. The process is a metaphor for leaving home, heading to college, or having a transformative experience. Thrasher is also the title of a Neil Young song I listened to obsessively in college. It marks his decision to leave the band he was in at the time and head off to pursue his solo career in earnest. Though I find the habit pedestrian, I often use song lyrics or titles as inspiration for works, and I couldn’t resist nodding to his sentiments as I returned to the place where I first stepped away from the safety and constancy of my parents and hometown.”

Join the McCauley Gallery in exploring the captivating world of "Thrasher," where Sarah Smelser's artwork invites you to experience the anticipation, excitement, and profound moments of personal growth that come with embarking on life’s transformational journeys. We celebrate the diverse experiences of our community college students and their unique paths to growth and discovery.

"Thrasher" has been organized by Shahrbanoo Hamzeh, Heartland Community College gallery coordinator.

Contact the Art Gallery

ICB 2507

Gallery Hours:


Monday- Friday

9:00 a.m. - 4:00 p.m.




9:00 a.m. - 4:00 p.m.

And by appointment


Shahrbanoo Hamzeh 

Carol Hahn 

Campus Map

LASS Administrative Assistant
Phone: 309-268-8635

Liberal Arts and Social Sciences Division