Ohio Wesleyan University’s Richard M. Ross Art Museum is kicking off its 20th anniversary year with fall exhibits by OWU’s current fine arts faculty and by the museum’s founding director, Justin Kronewetter.
Both exhibits will run from through Oct. 2 and include a free artists’ reception from 4 to 6 p.m. Sept. 1 at the museum, 60 S. Sandusky St., Delaware.
“I am excited to begin this important year with exhibitions that celebrate the educators and artists at the heart of OWU’s Fine Arts Department,” said Erin Fletcher, who succeeded Kronewetter as museum director after he retired in 2016. “Each of these faculty and emeriti faculty members has a distinct artistic voice. I’m pleased that the museum can share these Ohio artists with the public and give the artists a venue for sharing their research with the university community.”
‘From OWU’s Studios’
Four current faculty members will showcase their latest creations in “From OWU’s Studios,” an exhibition that demonstrates their mastery of media including ceramics, photography, painting, and printmaking. Exhibiting in the faculty showcase are:
• Kristina Bogdanov, M.F.A., who teaches ceramics, drawing, figure drawing, and three-dimensional design. “Our connectivity to the world and the meaning of tangible things have been challenged by the pandemic,” said Bogdanov, whose pieces utilize a photolithography transfer technique that she helped develop. The technique allows her to incorporate photography into ceramics. “I carefully consider both tactility and utility of ceramic objects to carry specific images, just as a creative writer considers the setting and plot for the story,” she said. “I believe that my approach of combining overglaze and underglaze painting with photolithography delivers a visually evocative image for the viewer to connect and contemplate the contextual layers.”
• Frank Hobbs, M.F.A., who teaches painting, drawing, figure drawing, and two-dimensional design. “As teachers of art, our exhortations to students often derive from the inner dialogues of our own practice. Before I say it to students, I’ve said this to myself: Your job is not to paint interesting subjects, but to make interesting paintings,” said Hobbs, an OWU faculty member since 2007. “Believe in and trust your power to transform the ordinary into the extraordinary. Tune into the visual, the formal, the relational in any situation; feel out and reveal those visual energies that are there in any situation, and that provide the real subject matter of any painting.”
• Jeff Nilan, M.F.A., who teaches photography, computer imaging, bookmaking, and two-dimensional design. His photographs, from a series titled “Wear,” represent “a group of images taken over the past two years, across the U.S. and abroad. Not individually titled, they are intended to relate to one another on visual and metaphorical terms,” said Nilan, a member of the OWU faculty since 2008. He also will be displaying a book, titled “Ground,” which “threads together images of planting and harvesting, burying and unearthing, of fresh life and recent death. It is meant to be a complement to the selection of photographs from the ‘Wear’ series.”
• Karen Weeks, M.F.A., an OWU instructor since 2020. Weeks’ work often explores themes of domestic space, femininity, and creative acts as political resistance. Her pieces in the new exhibit include “drawings from a series I have recently begun that features women at work/the work of women. This series was started from a desire to create a group of images that elevated film stills into icons and my personal fascination with rocks. One of the many similarities that exist between women and rocks is that both are foundational to building society.”
Learn more about Ohio Wesleyan’s Department of Fine Arts and its faculty at www.owu.edu/finearts.
‘Then and Now’
In addition to “From OWU’s Studios,” the Ross Art Museum also is showcasing this fall “Then and Now: Fifty Years of Camera Vision,” a photographic retrospective by former professor and founding museum director Justin Kronewetter, M.F.A.
The exhibit represents two career-defining bodies of his work: black-and-white analog images from 1972 to 2000 and color digital prints from 2000 to the present day. The images showcase Kronewetter’s gift for capturing common things in uncommon ways and demonstrate the evolution of his lifelong practice.
In describing his photography, Kronewetter said: “I take particular satisfaction in finding my subject matter among those things that are normally overlooked due to their presumed insignificance. Rather than wanting to show everything about a particular subject, I’m more interested in pursuing the reductivist aesthetic that encourages eliminating everything from the visual field except that which is essential in the creation of an effective work of art. …
“Rather than forcing the viewer to back away to see the entire image,” he said, “I prefer for the viewer to be drawn into ‘reading distance’ to discover details otherwise unnoticed.”
At Ohio Wesleyan, Kronewetter served as a professor from 1972 through 2008, teaching classes in painting, drawing, two-dimensional design, American art history, and photography. He also helped develop and professionalize the university’s photography offerings and, from its founding in the fall of 2002 through the 2015-2016 school year, served as director of the Ross Art Museum.
During his years at the university, Kronewetter said, “I curated and helped mount well over 200 exhibitions by students and professional artists. First as department chairperson and later as museum director, I created and helped build the university’s Permanent Teaching Collection of (2,500) works on paper by artists of both national and international stature.”
Since retiring, Kronewetter has concentrated on his own art, which includes creating a series of photographs while traveling from border to border throughout the Rocky Mountain West.
“And after years and years of promoting the artwork of both students and professional artists in my roles as teacher, exhibitions coordinator, and museum director,” he said, “I’m taking great satisfaction in finally being in a position to create and promote my own artwork.”
Read more about Kronewetter and view his work at www.justinkronewetter.com.
During the academic year, the Ross Art Museum is open Tuesday, Wednesday, and Friday from 10 a.m. to 5 p.m.; Thursday from 10 a.m. to 9 p.m.; and Sunday from 1 p.m. to 5 p.m. It is closed Saturdays and Mondays. The museum is handicap-accessible and admission is always free. Call (740) 368-3606 or visit www.owu.edu/ross for more information.