Keffer’s “The Painting Hour” now on exhibit at Norton Center for the Arts
Centre College professor of modern languages and artist Ken Keffer explores the relationship of time while creating art in his exhibit “The Painting Hour,” now on display through April 2016 in the grand foyer of the Norton Center for the Arts on Centre’s campus.
Included in the exhibit are more than thirty paintings Keffer created to capture particular moments of time. In doing so, he realized that time, on one hand, stood still while simultaneously becoming elongated, as he spent up to 90 minutes per piece to prepare for and produce a future recollection or memory.
According to the exhibit summary, each painting is “an exercise of this process to: anticipate a scenic shot; physically and emotionally be in the moment while producing an impression; writing a single thought onto the back of the canvas; and subsequently recalling an anecdote as a memory of that reproduced moment.”
The summary goes on to describe the installation as a single collective of work that “chronicles, in a clear and beautiful way, these moments in time with its own narrative of the human condition to observe, absorb, express and reflect upon perceived beauty: past, present and future.”
The Painting Hour
I set out to paint outdoors every day in July, a kind of stunt no doubt, but also a little like taking vitamins or praying while in foreign lands.
What I did in the Big Month of July, 2015 (it turned out to have 37 days!) cannot rightly be called painting, for that art takes much more commitment and care than I was born to give.
Still, I can find no better word for it in our English language, so I will call it painting for the time being.
Blessed be the hour of painting. It is an hour that stretches from 60 to 90 minutes, not the numbers on the face of pulsing clocks. Teachers at Centre know the pleasure and urgency of this hour. The teaching hour and the painting hour are the same thing.
The painting hour is not feather light and colorless. It has the weight of a portable easel carried down lanes and in buses and subways. The easel raises the canvas to the height of our looking, ever looking eyes. The painting hour is filled with the primary colors, too, with some brushes and some water. It must be folded and unfolded.
The thirty-one paintings in this collection plead with us that nothing should last longer than they have done. No play, no concert, no poem, no speech. They are in love with the morning and the afternoon, the rising and the setting sun.
For this reason, I have used the Chinese characters 月(moon) and日(sun) to glorify them. This painting spree, like education itself, solves no conceivable problem. Nothing more than the days holds these works together.
by Ken Keffer, Stodghill Professor of French and German
January 8, 2015
The exhibit is free and open to the public during the Norton Center’s regular business hours, January through April 2016.