Drawing in a new art exhibit


NICK FISHER, Executive Editor

“Drawn Together: Dialog Human 2015” by Priscilla Steele and Thomas C. Jackson is the latest exhibition on display at the UNI Gallery of Art. The exhibition shows how two vastly different artists with vastly different styles and modalities can come together under similar conditions to subvert and expand upon one of the basic elements of art: rendering the human figure. 

“If you’re drawing the figure, the ‘normal’ thing to do — let’s say the thing that you learn to do when you’re studying drawing — is to draw the figure in the middle of the page, and it’s just a drawing of a figure. So you ask yourself, as time goes on and once you’re able to draw the figure, ‘Okay, now why am I drawing the figure and what do I want to do with it? How can I push this piece of art in a different conceptual direction?’” Jackson said. 

The “Drawn Together” exhibit will be on display at the UNI Gallery of Art, located in the Kamerick Art Building South, from Jan. 12 through Feb. 28. 

The works on display are products of Jackson and Steele’s time spent drawing the human figure from various models. They did so in a group setting that has met biweekly since 2008. The pieces are rendered in a wide variety of mediums including graphite, charcoal, pastel, watercolor and ink. 

The artists also use both additive and subtractive processes, drawing the figure on the canvas in a standard format as well as rendering the figure using the backwards style of taking away from a filled-in space to produce a figure.

“You could say, generally, that Tom Jackson’s work is very fluid and gestural, and very abstract. So abstract that, in some cases, it is to the point of being non-representational. You can say that Priscilla Steele’s work is more precise in draftsmanship. But even now, you can look at these works together and see that Priscilla is beginning to abstract her work even more; to block out areas with color or with value, and that even Tom is beginning to backpedal into draftsmanship and representing the figure as-is,” said Darrell Taylor, Director of the UNI Gallery of Art. 

Taylor, the primary curator for the “Drawn Together” exhibit, feels that the exhibit can be a beneficial experience for the community. 

“What I want is for students, faculty and patrons in the community to come to the Gallery and see how two very different artists work in their own studio; and how they, together, can create an exhibition. Two very different artists, in the same space, can make a cohesive presentation together,” Taylor said. 

The Gallery itself provides many opportunities for the community, especially UNI students. Besides Taylor, everyone who works for the Gallery of Art is a student. The Gallery is a facility for students to learn about the museum and gallery profession. Employed students help with security, work with the Gallery’s database and even assist Taylor with his duties including the curation of shows. 

Of the Gallery’s nine exhibitions this year, three are student shows including shows at the end of every semester devoted to the Bachelor of Fine Arts students. 

“They’re always very beautiful, ambitious shows and they are the highlight of our roster,” Taylor said. 

The UNI Gallery of Art’s diverse lineup makes for a different experience for its attendees with each new exhibition. And as a member of the Gallery’s lineup, the “Drawn Together” exhibit, and Jackson’s work in particular, relies heavily upon the viewer to supply his or her own interpretation, said Taylor.

Jackson’s “Halo” series, part of the “Drawn Together” collection, presents the human figure in conjunction with common objects, creating a fragmented narrative for the viewer to piece together to generate meaning. 

For Jackson, the ambiguity is essential.

 “I think that if I say this piece means absolutely ‘this’ and that’s the only meaning this piece has, it just gets smaller. If I invite the viewer to bring their own story into it, the piece gets bigger,” Jackson said.

For Jackson, the viewer plays a vital role in his artwork. Taylor feels that the UNI Gallery of Art is the place where the viewer can experience that feeling of being drawn into something and losing yourself.

“It’s a place for you to come and daydream. It’s a place for you to come and relax,” Taylor said. “It’s a place for you to come to be inspired.”