Past Artist's Statements

“Fire and Ice” Exhibition

Galesburg Civic Art Center

May 22 – June 20, 2015    

This show features recent works in my Global Warming series which focus on climate change and its threat to coast cities worldwide and my new Lava Series (2014 – 2015) which relates to my observations last summer of the amazing lava landscape features of the Big Island of Hawaii.  A continuing theme is the impermanence of man-made structures in the face of the forces of nature as evident in rising ocean levels and in volcanic eruptions and the ensuing lava flows.

Over time, a wide variety of materials have been incorporated into my mixed media collages, most recently large pieces of canvas-backed expandable foam, which were previously used in the set for a play at Monmouth College Wells Theater.  The foam had been originally employed to depict the vast network of tree roots on the barren stage for the set of “Waiting for Godot.”  Other materials include metal pieces from a former barn roof which are now seen in “Orange Diptych.”  The destruction of the barn as the result of a thunderstorm connects with the theme of this exhibition.  Pieces of rust can be seen throughout many of my works, particularly as part of the volcanic eruptions.

In the last 40 years, my works have moved from flat to dimensional with built-up surfaces representing a transformation in my use of materials while responding to the myriad of patterns in nature.

Recent Works in the Rust Series, 2014

My exhibition in the Fusion Theatre Gallery features a new direction in my use of rusted metal to create art forms.  The focus has been a shaping of large corrugated metal panels to capture their own distinctive properties, whether it be for their texture, shape or color.  The use of motion or implied movement in these forms creates a new way of looking to appreciate the action.  For example, in a piece such as “Go With the Flow, we can sense the energy contained within the work.  We can respond to its movement as it comes out from the wall and then goes back in.  Such action is the essence of the piece’s aesthetic appeal for me.

Similarly, “Roller Coaster” or “Strip of Bacon,” (a more descriptive title suggested by the young students who have come to the theatre), is a work that conveys the sense of joy from the movement of a roller coaster.  Its multiple dimensions and especially its scale (15’ long x 16” wide x 15” high) contributes to its impact. 

The small collage works in the exhibition include pieces of rust that were inserted with other materials such as cloth and papers, as elements chosen for their color, shape, texture, etc.  In these works it is the tension between the materials in their arrangement that is the focus; in the more recent works, the focus is on the possibilities in viewing the singular rust form itself.

I’ve enjoyed the challenge of bringing something old, burned, and almost buried back to a new life.  The resuscitation, in this case, has been the transformation of this group of corrugated rust panels, which previously had been the roof of a large barn located near Little York that had been destroyed by a fire.  When I acquired these panels, they were lying flat in the farm field.  I was especially struck by the pure beauty of the orange-brown to purple rust tones and textures, particularly as seen in the “Orange Diptych” panels.  I found that working with this material - the large scale, rigidity, and thickness of the panels  - provided a different kind of challenge compared to working on the smaller rust collages for previous exhibits.

In conclusion, I hope the exhibition brings an appreciation of rusted metal in its many forms…remember, rust never sleeps!

Retrospective, 2009

At certain intervals in an artist's life, it is valuable to look back to the body of work created over the years.  2009 is the 50th anniversary of the start of my teaching career at Monmouth College, a career that spanned 40 years.  Since my retirement 10 years ago, I have continued to be active, producing a number of new works which are being displayed here for the first time.

The retrospective has several objectives.  The first is to present an overview of the major periods and themes on which my art has focused.  The second is to introduce a new series on Global Warming.  The third is to show developing artists how an artist's work can develop and transform over the years while returning to familiar themes and materials

Three sabbatical leaves in Japan have heightened my awareness and sensitivity to the native art motifs, and influenced my work tremendously.  Included in this exhibition are examples of my previous series that draw from Japanese art, life, and culture, and emphasize features of the Zen landscape garden (Ryoan-ji Series), the tea ceremony (Tea House Series), the Noh Drama (Noh Series), the Tale of Genji (Genji Series), and the famed Tsukiji Fish Market of Tokyo (Fish Market Series).

Over the years, the natural world, in its myriad manifestations, has been a recurring subject.  I have responded to the mystery and beauty of natural rock formations in works such as "Grand Canyon" and water features in works like "Golden Falls."  This past year I introduced a new series, the Global Warming Series, which builds upon my earlier Glacier collages from 1980, the twist being a focus on climate change and its impact on the natural world.  I have further explored these impacts as they relate to the built environment in the Ice City works, which provide an insight into a catastrophic sequence of an ice storm hitting a coastal city like New York City, leading to its abandonment.  The “As Waters Rise” collages are an initial exploration into the tragedy of flooding as we are seeing here in the Heartland.

Coastal/Canyon Series, 2007

For many years, my work has been inspired by Asian art subjects such as dry landscape gardens, stroll gardens, and tea houses in which I have employed a variety of collage materials to represent textures found in these forms. In this exhibition I am again using simple materials such as sand, sea shells, algae, bark, pieces of rust, and Japanese handmade papers to develop the coastal and canyon themes.  

The recent collaboration with my daughter came about as I began to examine her photographs as possible sources of subject matter for my collage works.  We both have a deep appreciation of natural landscape forms such as rocks, canyons, waterfalls, and the Pacific coastline.  Over the years our family has traveled to vacation destinations in the desert southwest, the Rocky Mountains of the U.S. and Canada, and along the Pacific coastal areas of Oregon and California.

Coastal forms have been in the focus of Jennifer’s camera as she has explored the local environment during the years she has resided in Marin County and worked in Stinson Beach. Her daily observations of shifting landscape features, the uniqueness of each sunset, or the changing colors of water and sky have frequently been recorded on film and shared with her family.  Jennifer’s recent trip to the Grand Canyon, Bryce Canyon, and Zion National Park has produced an additional group of photographs that reveal the natural beauty of these areas.

My new series builds on her photographs to provide a greater visual sense of the forms and textures that were originally captured by the camera.  By combining the photographs with rocks, shells, and other authentic materials, one is allowed to come closer to the actual experience and to give further emphasis to the deep appreciation of the collage artist and the photographer for the natural landscape.