Layers of a “Gray/Grey” world

Artist opens new exhibit in Bryan Oliver Gallery

Artist Michelle Forsyth brings together watercolors, paintings and weavings that she said offer the viewer a meditative viewing space. Forsyth is opening an exhibit titled “Gray/Grey” in the Bryan Oliver gallery on Nov. 13.

The water colors are saturated hues continually layered until grey tones are created, but the original washes of color can still be seen in certain lighting, as well as on the edges of the paintings. Forsyth’s work is process-oriented; she said she enjoys  delving into the meditative space it creates.

“I try to employ practices and technologies that slow myself down,” Forsyth said. “They are so time consuming that I get caught up in it.”

Forsyth said the viewer often considers these meditative works as abstractions, even though they are representations.

Gallery director and art professor Lance Sinnema said the pieces are very layered.

“It sounds like the surfaces are very subtle,” Sinnema said. “When you look at them from a distance it’s just grey tones, but as you get closer you notice all the layers.”

The exhibit will also include woven pieces that are a return to Forsyth’s creative origin: knitting and needlework taught to Forsyth by her mother. These pieces continue the process-oriented theme and are made from many different materials, including bamboo and cotton.

“I’m also really interested in labor,” Forsyth said. “The labor is impugned into the work”

A viewer mentioned to Forsyth that these works looked like her husband’s shirts. After hearing this, Forsyth began work that is actually based on patterns from her husband’s shirts.

“It was just an off-hand comment, but I went with it,” Forsyth said.

Those pieces incorporate paintings on wood, linen and weavings. Unlike the water colors which are made with large brushstrokes, these paintings are created with tiny brushstrokes, creating a new texture.

“It slows people down when they view the work,” Forsyth said.

Forsyth has displayed work in group and solo exhibits throughout North America and overseas, including the Zaum Projects in Portugal, the Pentimenti Gallery in Philadelphia, and the Hogar Collection in New York. She is currently associate professor in the fine arts department at Washington State University.

“Gray/Grey” opens at the artist’s reception Nov. 13 at 5 p.m. in the Bryan Oliver Gallery. Forsyth will give a lecture at 6 p.m.

Luke Eldredge Staff Writer

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Lit reading complements homecoming festivities

People packed the Bryan Oliver gallery and the adjacent hallway, all listening intently to the soft, soothing voices of poets echoing throughout the building. Their words flowed together under the dim lighting, creating an ambiance of relaxation and peace.

Professor of English Laurie Lamon, senior English lecturer Thom Caraway and alumna Lisa Flesher, ’81, read some of their poetry on Saturday, Oct. 6 in the Lied Art Center. The event was scheduled as part of the Homecoming activities for the week.

Caraway said he is excited about the university’s promotion of the reading.

“We have previously had a few readings like this throughout the year that were moderately well-attended and moderately well-advertised,” he said. “This year, [the poetry reading] is part of homecoming festivities. It’s exciting being able to reach a wider audience than we normally get. They did a great job with it this year. It’s a good showcase for Laurie and I, and good for the alumna [Flesher].”

Flesher currently lives in Oklahoma City with her husband. She has been published in numerous journals and has read her poetry at the National Arts Club in New York City. She is best known for her contributions to the Nimrod International Journal of Prose and Poetry, and she is now the co-chief poetry editor there. She is nearing completion of a book of her poetry.

“I’m just so privileged to be here with an audience like this, and with Thom and Laurie,” she said at the end of her set.

Flesher read a variety of poems, such as “Blue Flax”, “Under the Influence: A Poem for Empty Nesters”, and “Meditating with the Dogs”.

After being introduced by professor of English Leonard Oakland, who emceed the reading, Lamon took the stage to read next.

Lamon said she has always been a writer, ever since she was a little girl. She mostly writes about animals, and said her students will often send her pictures and videos of animals because they know how much she enjoys them.

“I was very serious about it at a very young age,” Lamon said. “I was always drawn to poetry. Writing for me has been a way to expand intellectual horizons.”

Lamon has been at Whitworth University since 1981 in various capacities, and she said she appreciates the chance to get to be a part of the event.

“This is a liberal arts university, and the arts belong to all of us,” she said. “If people have never come to a poetry reading before, they can have a misperception. It’s a beautiful way to highlight the arts.”

Caraway said he wrote his first story in second grade, and he has been seriously studying the craft of writing since the mid 90s. His poems have been in various journals, and his first poetry collection, “A Visitor’s Guide to North Dakota”, was published in 2007.

“I think [writing] is trying to convey essential experience, trying to share something with the audience,” he said. “That’s the primary source of context and tension and satisfaction, for me as a writer.”

Lamon said she was excited for the opportunity to share art with Whitworth.

“If you haven’t attended one of the literary readings, come,” she said. “There are wonderful speakers, [and] it’s wonderful when people from other disciplines get to enjoy this as well.”

Caraway agrees.

“Everybody should come,” he said. “Poetry is good for your soul, good for your mind and heart.”

Meghan Dellinger Staff Writer

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Falling into ‘mythical landscapes’ with Ben Moss

Whitworth’s Bryan Oliver gallery is hosting a new art exhibit by Ben Frank Moss titled “Mythical Landscapes.” Moss, a Whitworth alumnus, has been working in art since 1956. Throughout his career he has seen brutality in the world and drastic changes in the art community.

“Beauty is a bad word today,” said Moss on these changes. “Violence is shocking and gets your attention.”

Moss’ work in “Mythical Landscapes” is a return to beauty and invention. Those whose focus is not in an artistic area might hear “landscape painting” and think of pretty mountains and valleys, or of postcards on the refrigerator. Moss’ exhibit is much more than that. The works are not representations of a world we already know.

When asked where his works were painted Moss said, “This business of mythical, that is very intentional.”

Moss has received the Distinguished Alumni Award from both Whitworth University and Boston University, along with the Charles Loring Elliott Award and Medal for Drawing. He has also received membership in the National Academy of Design and Christians in the Visual Arts.

Besides being an accomplished artist, Moss was also a professor in the art department at Dartmouth College, retiring in 2008. During his teaching career, he instructed Whitworth art department chair Gordon Wilson.

“We had as much of his time as we wanted,” Wilson said. “Less, not more, he was very good at pointing that out.”

With some of Moss’ paintings being the size of a postcard, he is certainly able to fit more into less.

“He was abstract but recognizable to everyone’s experience; he lets the viewer do a lot of the imagining,”  said sophomore Ashton Skinner.

The exhibit will be open until Nov. 2.

Story by Luke Eldredge Staff Writer

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