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

Contact Luke Eldredge at

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

Contact Luke Eldredge at