Respected art lecturer dies

Hartley Shearer, part-time lecturer in art, died suddenly yesterday at home. He was 57 and had struggled for three years with increasing complications from a stroke.

“Hartley Shearer was a vital member of the college and local community as an accomplished video artist, energetic teacher, lively intellectual presence, volunteer, caring colleague and friend to many,” said Morton Schapiro, president of the College. “He was also an especially devoted husband and father.”

As in his ice hockey coaching at Mt. Greylock Regional High School and his year-round mountain biking, he took on every project with intensity and drive.

“He didn’t want to just show something to viewers, he wanted to engage them in the situation,” said Michael A. Glier, assistant professor of art. “He wasn’t didactic; he was trying to create a conversation.”

He immersed himself deeply in new technologies and was one of the first artists to combine theory and practice to integrate video, film and multimedia, as in a course on contemporary art and film he taught with his wife Linda Shearer, director of the Williams College Museum of Art.

His work has been shown in New York City and at the Williams College Museum of Art. It was supported by grants from the National Endowment for the Arts and the Sloan Foundation. He was also highly regarded as an interpreter and critic.

“Hartley was a natural skeptic,” Glier said. “He took nothing at face value and nothing went unchallenged. This was an important attribute to have in an academic community, particularly in art.”

In addition to classroom teaching, he advised students on independent study projects and collaborated with other faculty, including those in other departments, on their work.At the time of his stroke, he was pursuing a master’s degree in social work at the State University of New York at Albany. He was committed to working with troubled boys and used video production to engage residents of the Berkshire Farm Center in Canaan, N.Y.

Shearer attended Middlebury College and earned a B.F.A. from New York University in 1968.

In addition to his wife, he is survived by his son, Ivor, a college student. A memorial gathering will take place Saturday, Feb. 16, at a time and place to be announced. In lieu of flowers, donations can be made in his name to the Berkshire Farm Center in Canaan, N.Y.

Courtesy of OPA