In the art world, the concept of a “still life,” a painting or drawing of arranged objects, dates back hundreds of years. For many artists, learning to capture the color of a piece of fruit, or the shape of a vase, is an exercise in mastering the technique of observation. Once mastered, however, the genre of still life can serve as a stepping stone for contemporary artists to explore new formal and conceptual approaches, and as a means to express personal meaning.
Meanwhile, other artists have found joy and deeper meaning in returning to the simplicity of the still life. In the upcoming exhibition, “Variations on the Still Life,” Hiram College’s Gelbke Fine Arts Center will showcase the works of artists Malcolm Christhilf and Sean McConnor, that explore the diverse possibilities of the traditional concept.
“Unrestricted by formal conventions, ‘objects on a table,’ has allowed a neutral arena for an amazing variety of conceptual interpretations and formal innovations … And of course, this kind of painting has always been a way of expressing pure pleasure in the shapes, colors, and textures of material things,” the artists wrote in a statement about their work.
Christhilf, born in Maryland, is a professor of art at Edinboro University of Pennsylvania. He earned a Bachelor of Science at Towson State University and attended Tamarind Institute’s Printer Fellow Program in New Mexico to earn a printer’s certificate. He completed his MFA at the University of California. He is also the author of the book, “Color Notes: A Hands-On Guide to Color and Paint for Painters.”
McConnor, a native of Mentor, Ohio, is a professor of art at Thiel College in Pennsylvania. He has a bachelor’s degree in art education from Kent State University and a MFA from Edinboro University. He has exhibited work extensively in Ohio and Pennsylvania and was awarded first place in the 77th National Midyear exhibition at the Butler Institute of American Art in Youngstown.
The “Variations on the Still Life” exhibition will open on September 15 with a reception from 5-7 p.m., including a talk by the artists at 6 p.m. The reception is free and open to the public and light refreshments will be provided. The show will run through October 13.
The Gelbke Fine Arts Center Gallery is located 1200 Winrock Road in Ohio. Gallery hours are 9:30 a.m.- 5 p.m., Monday-Friday.