Chaveevah chats about art
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For the past few years, the Rod Library has routinely featured monthly art exhibits, with last month’s exhibit spotlighting local artist and UNI alumna Chaveevah Ferguson.
Ferguson is a self-taught artist and has been for as long as she can remember. She grew up in Chicago, where she danced with the Muntu Dance Theatre of Chicago for 12 years before moving to Waterloo and attending UNI.
Last Wednesday, March 1, Ferguson presented some of her artwork at the Rod Library. She has been painting since she was 20 years old. She started with oils but eventually shifted to acrylics due to the faster drying rate.
Ferguson explained that she has always observed the world around her, which has helped her in her artwork.
“I would sometimes be at parties, and I would look around and see that everyone else it talking to somebody but me,” Ferguson said. “I would just be looking and seeing what’s going on.”
Ferguson enjoys painting large groups of people and gets inspiration from weddings and parties. Music and dance are also very influential to her artwork.
When comparing dancing to painting, Ferguson said, “[It’s like] apples to oranges. They are both really good fruit, and I enjoy them both.”
Many of Ferguson’s work features groups of people with enhanced body proportions of elongated limbs and rounded faces. According to Ferguson, she doesn’t feel constrained to the idea that her art has to be exactly proportional. In addition, most of her art features vibrant colors.
Julie Ann Beddow, library assistant, used a range of descriptions for Ferguson’s work.
“Her art is colorful, vibrant, whimsical and different,” Beddow said. “Something very different — but [it’s] nice to see this type of color and shades on our walls.”
When Ferguson is painting for fun, she often uses unrealistic colors on realistic images to allow for creativity and amusement.
“If an artist is inspired — or amused — or finds joy in what he or she creates, I believe the same inspiration, amusement or joy will be communicated to those who view the art,” Ferguson said.
Ferguson explained that she comes up with an idea and sketches it out with pencil and paper before putting it down on a canvas. A lot of the time, she doesn’t know how things will turn out. According to Ferguson, when moving the drawing from paper to canvas, everything just seems to come together.
“Everyone just moves into the space they’re supposed to be in,” Ferguson said.
Kaytlyn Anzivino, freshman deciding major, praised the unplanned nature of Ferguson’s artwork.
“I like that she doesn’t really know what she’s going to paint until she just does it,” Anzivino said.
Ferguson also illustrates many children’s books and started her own publishing company, called BaHar Publishing in Waterloo.
Following the discussion, a drawing took place for a prize from the artist. Camille Petrich, freshman psychology major, was the winner of the drawing.
“I really liked [Ferguson’s] presentation and her artwork,” Petrich said. “It’s always really colorful with a cool color scheme.”
The Rod Library showcases different artwork every month. Chris Cox, dean of the library, explained the purpose of the building’s art wall.
“One of the things we want to do by creating an art wall is to have a place where the community, students and faculty can display their art,” Cox said.
At her presentation, Ferguson discussed her goals as someone who displays and shares her artwork with others.
“It’s a good thing and a blessing when your life and your art overlap and the same enjoyment it gives you, it gives other people,” Ferguson said. “That’s what every artist dreams of.”