||Alum Paul Oberst's art exhibited on campus throughout October
RELEASED: October 1, 2009
By Leigh Ivey
DANVILLE, KY— "I live my art. It's the way I express the mysteries of being alive."
So says Centre College alumnus Paul Oberst '77, who will be exhibiting a small portion of his artwork at the College's AEGON Gallery this month.
His exhibit, titled Ceremonial Objects, Tents, Temples and Blankets, includes a range of pieces that "depict—or rather are—various temples, a locus in my mind for transformation and passage of the human spirit."
Some of the pieces in the exhibit date back to 2000, though others, including a large-scale piece named "Ceremonial Blanket/Rabbit Hunt," were created specifically for the Centre exhibit.
Oberst is excited about having his work displayed at the College, since if not for Centre, he may have never discovered his passion for art.
"Without Centre and the most amazing professor of art, Tom Gaines, I seriously doubt I would be an artist," Oberst says. "Tom opened my eyes to the world of contemporary art and communicated a passion for creativity that was visceral, profound and life-changing. Tom gave me a freedom to express myself not through techniques and formulas but through my very being."
The art program, though, was not the only aspect of the College that transformed Oberst into the artist he is today.
"Thanks to Centre's liberal arts courses in aesthetics, comparative religions, history, anthropology, literature and even calculus, I couldn't help but feel that my mind was sprung wide open. For the first time, I felt I could personally reveal facets of the great mysteries of life," he says.
The ability to express these mysteries through art is what Oberst enjoys most about his career.
"My art career has been a metaphor for my whole life. I feel artists are the descendants of ancient shamans. It's our job to not only make art but to teach, and heal, and entertain, and protect the culture of our people."
The exhibit was put in motion by Dr. Judith Pointer Jia, associate professor of art and gallery director.
"Judith was interested in my work because I'm constantly moving between artistic disciplines," Oberst says. "She figured that a show of my work would give students an opportunity to see how an artist can move beyond limitations that we so often impose upon ourselves."
Oberst's personal art will not be the only work on display in Jones Visual Arts Center this month.
With his instructions, several Centre students have recently completed two large-scale installation pieces, which Oberst calls "Ceremonial Blankets."
The pieces are large grids, one of which was created by the "burnt ends of sticks gathered by the students, and no doubt burned with torches from the glass facilities," Oberst explains.
The other grid was drawn with black clay slip (a mixture of clay and water) from the ceramics department.
"I wanted to choose media that honored traditions at Centre but that grounded the students in the most primal of artistic expression," he says.
Completed on Sept. 19, the pieces turned out even better than Oberst had hoped.
"I can't thank Judith or those dedicated students enough for this experience," he says. "They did a remarkable job. When I saw the photographs of the pieces, I was knocked out by the quality of their work. They really understood the approach that I wanted them to take."
The students' work is currently on display and will be joined by Oberst's own pieces on Oct. 3.
On Friday, Oct. 30 (during Centre's Homecoming weekend), Oberst will be delivering a Gallery Talk at 3:30 p.m. A public reception for the artist, hosted by the Alumni House, will take place from 4 to 5:30 p.m.
Oberst is looking forward to sharing his passion for art during these events.
"For me, life is a great mystery that cannot be solved but only appreciated," he says. "Ever the dreamer, my vision is that all of humankind might experience the joy I feel in being free to include anything in my temples and being free to absorb as much of life as possible."
Have comments, suggestions, or story ideas? E-mail email@example.com with your feedback.
- end -
Founded in 1819, Centre College is ranked among the U.S. News top 50 national liberal arts colleges. Consumers Digest ranks Centre No. 1 in educational value among all U.S. liberal arts colleges. Centre alumni, known for their nation-leading loyalty in annual financial support, include two U.S. vice presidents and two Supreme Court justices. For more, visit http://www.centre.edu/web/elevatorspeech/
For news archives go to http://www.centre.edu/web/news/newsarchive.html.
600 W. Walnut Street
Danville, KY 40422