Stitches of meaning found in the cornfields of Taylor - The Echo News
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Stitches of meaning found in the cornfields of Taylor

Professor and illustrator displays his artwork

Students observe the apocalyptic group of illustrations in the art exhibit (Photograph by Ben Williams)

Students observe the apocalyptic group of illustrations in the art exhibit
(Photograph by Ben Williams)

By Chrysa Keenon | Echo

A combination of acrylic and digital paintings, intentional thought put into every brushstroke. Such describes Professor of Art and Department Co-Chair Jonathan Bouw’s work in “Incident on Gaston Pike.”

The pieces, which can be found in Metcalf Gallery, are unique due to their framing in black burlap. According to Jeremie Riggleman, assistant professor of art, it is a good way to demonstrate the story being displayed throughout the pieces.

Riggleman also said that Bouw believes the collection is not finished, only being about one-third complete.

These four groups of paintings all are made with different purposes. One group depicts a children’s book based on the Philippines’ culture Bouw hopes to get published. Another set it covers from murder mystery books published by Annie’s Publishing, and the third group of illustrations from local author, Shirley Thacker’s, book, “You are Somebody,” depicting a young girl in her story of survival and healing from sexual assault. The fourth depicts an apocalyptic view of nature and the broken relationship between heaven and Earth, all in God’s encompassing big picture.

The sexual assault and nature illustrations are what Bouw sees as “incidents,” which relates back to the name of the exhibit, “Incident on Gaston Pike.”  

The namesake of the exhibit comes from Bouw’s commute from his home in Yorktown to Upland, which he has been doing daily for the past 12 years. When he first moved to the area, Bouw thought the landscape was boring, but has learned to appreciate its beauty.

“All of them are about … a wound,” Bouw said. “This is a wound that’s personal for a little girl, this is a wound between heaven and Earth. And with any wound, if you have a cut or a wound, if you have stitches and a gash, and I’ve come to see the trees and the landscape here as the stitches that hold earth and heaven together. And at one time of the year in around February, March, April — when the trees are no longer biting the sky, because they don’t have any leaves and they cannot hold the light and the ground is soft and muddy —  the stitches can come out. And are pulled out.”

Kathy Herrmann, assistant professor of art and department co-chair, said that she believes Bouw has an excellent sense of being able to balance his leadership in the art department as her co, as well as teach classes and find time to paint.

Bouw loves to paint, and did not need an excuse to participate in this hobby. He has a passion for depicting human figures and landscape, while creating a piece that is meaningful, hopeful and beneficial.

“The work in his exhibit is a testimony to a disciplined, ordered and observant life,” Herrmann said. “Of course I could talk about his astounding technical skills, his ability to paint a subject with such detail and realistic qualities that the images appear to be stopped in motion. But for me, the emotive qualities, the feelings, moods and his sensitivity to the subject, are truly Jonathan’s strengths. Whether figure or landscape, his brush captures the essence of the subject providing for the viewer an experience that is uniquely their own.”

Riggleman hopes that all those who observe the gallery will walk away changed. He believes it is a good reminder for people to do well in their field, whether or not that be art.

“When we are overcome with grayness and the blaze days of winter I find it very depressing, and I’ve often thought that when it’s rainy and yuck, and the sun is not out yet late in the winter (and) when I’m really tired of winter, I’ve often thought that if there’s any time I want the Lord to return, it’s then,” Bouw said.

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