MTSO Liberation From Bondage Show

The Liberation From Bondage show at the Methodist Theological School in Ohio opened yesterday with a panel discussion.

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Doors to Centrum Gallery MTSO

I graduated from this school in 2000 and haven’t been back since, so it was a nostalgic, interesting day.

mtso library

MTSO Library

I arrived early to  spend time with the show and visit old haunts.   Many happy, stimulating hours were spent at this library table, poring over obscure theological texts.  A quick perusal of the periodical section offered the usual array of Christian, Jewish and Islamic publications but nothing from the Buddhist or Hindu traditions.  I offered to supply the library with a subscription to Hinduism Today a few years ago but the school  declined, citing a desire to save paper.  Some things never change.

Alford Centrum Gallery Window

Alford Centrum Gallery Window

The show was nicely put together by current student, Ellice Park….

Ellice Park, Curator MTSO show

Ellice Park, Curator MTSO show

….who arrived wearing a pair of Lady Gaga boots.

Lady Gaga Boots

Lady Gaga Boots

She gave a moving talk about the similarity between these boots, Chinese foot-binding and gender issues during the panel discussion.  Even without the explanation, I admired the audacious theater of seeing such a bold, freaky sight in a seminary context.

Welcome Table & Power Point Screen

Welcome Table & Power Point Screen

Ellice added pizzaz to the space with a power point loop of short artist statements above the welcome table.  This acts as a sort of “stop, look & listen” sign for the show.  For a culture immersed in technology,  this is a savvy move.

Alford Centrum Gallery

Alford Centrum Gallery

The artists represented are Sherry Farris, Ellice Park, Sarah Hahn and myself.

Sarah Hahn sculpture of lady Gaga

Sarah Hahn sculpture of lady Gaga

Sarah Hahn had several large ceramic pieces riffing on ancient Greek sculpture and contemporary celebrities.

Persephone Sculpture by Sarah Haan

Persephone Sculpture by Sarah Hahn

Sarah couldn’t make the panel discussion, which is a shame.  I have seen her work in other shows and was looking forward to spending time with her.

Sherry Farris work

Sherry Farris work

Sherry Farris had many mixed- media pieces in the show.  I particularly enjoyed the wood and hair in this piece….

Sherry Farris Mixed Media

Sherry Farris Mixed Media

…and in this one.  Sherry’s work is free in a way mine is not, so I really paid attention.  Of all the pieces in the show, hers looked the best on power point.  I hope she makes prints and sells the heck out of them!

Blue Boy Unbound

Blue Boy Unbound

I had four pieces in the show, “Blue Boy Unbound” being one of them.  It was delightful to see it hung between two doors, with the Exit sign above and fire alarm beneath.  I couldn’t help but laugh out loud.

Lynda McClanahan, Ellice Park & Sherry Farris

Lynda McClanahan, Ellice Park & Sherry Farris

A mix of paintings and sculptures keeps the show interesting.

Lynda McClanahan & Dean Lisa Withrow

Lynda McClanahan & Dean Lisa Withrow

The panel discussion went well, with many sweet and often probing questions.  This show was a long time coming but was worth it in the end.  Who ever thought I’d get my picture taken with the Dean of a Methodist Seminary?  What a privilege to spend time in such company!

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Art 360: Contemporary Art Hatching Across Ohio

I have been working away on a project initiated by Chuck Bluestone, a collector and local arts leader. He is the curator for a show entitled “Art 360:  Contemporary Art Hatching Across Ohio.”   48 artists were commissioned to paint whatever they liked onto an ostrich egg.  I was lucky enough to be one of them.

Painted ostrich egg bottom

The show is slated to open at the Southern Ohio Museum & Cultural Center in Portsmouth, Ohio in the Spring of 2016 and at the Columbus Museum of Art in June of that same year.  Ann Bremmer, former publications editor for the Wexner Center will write the catalogue essay for the exhibit and Rikki Santer will contribute a poem.  The project may travel to other museums and exhibition centers in Ohio and will benefit The Ohio Art League.   This worthy endeavor has proved to be quite the challenge.

Having never painted an egg before, I lost sleep over this project.  The first design challenge was to decide whether to incorporate the egg shape into the meaning of the work or just use it as a background.  I settled on the former.  Who wouldn’t want to promote fertility?  I had a bit of fun as I visually free-associated my way across the surface.  I’m hoping only a few viewers will notice the, uh, wriggly things on the bottom.

egg bottom

The next issue was how to handle the object while working.  I tried various strategies, including this low-tech spindle platform constructed from a scavenged dowel rod and a slab of styrofoam packing material found in a dumpster.

Egg on dowel rod in styrofoam

Egg on dowel rod in styrofoam

I thought I could spin the egg around while painting but found it easier to hold the thing in one hand and paint with the other.  Many nerve-wracking hours were spent chasing an over-sized egg across my lap, praying not to smudge or break it.  The handy-dandy styro-spindle was used mostly as a drying rack between work sessions.

egg topThe final product is superficially attractive and familiar, an Easter Egg which reveals itself as something more only upon closer inspection.  I wanted to evoke the life force as it really is:  alien, disturbing and funny.  The “petals” at the top look a bit like hairy tongues but at the crown, in the very center of the piece, is a realm of pure light.  Who among us really understands this world?  Only a fool claims to make sense of it.

 

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