Special to the Tribune-Star
TERRE HAUTE —
Portraits and still-lifes are timeless genres of painting where the intent of the artist is to capture the visual appearance of the subject. Traditionally, the masters of portraiture added psychological drama to their works of art, thereby creating a likeness of the sitter both inward and outward. Still-life painters working in the great Vanitas tradition used symbolism to hint at fleeting life, imminent decay and impending death.
During February, Halcyon Contemporary Art presents paintings by Nancy Nichols-Pethick and Ben Madeska, artists who continue to work within these great genres while adding a contemporary and personal vision. The opening reception will be from 7 to 9 p.m. Feb. 4. Yearbook Committee will provide musical entertainment beginning at 9 p.m.
Halcyon’s North Gallery will feature an exhibition of portraits by Nichols-Pethick.
“My most recent paintings explore the transformations that young adults go through and the periods of apparent dormancy that seem so necessary to the success of those transformations. An immature insect becomes (to all outward appearances) inactive, yet tremendous physical changes are taking place — changes that allow it to fully realize its adult form. The figures in these forest landscapes, in various states of sleeping and waking, are peaceful, yet vulnerable. I want to suggest that they are in the process of becoming, and that what they will become isn’t known, perhaps even to them. My students, past and present, are the models for these paintings, and their willingness to offer themselves as subjects is a testament to their own belief in the transformative potential of the visual image,” Nichols-Pethick said.
The artist received her master’s of fine arts in painting from Indiana State University in 2000, and her bachelor’s of fine arts in drawing from the University of Southern Maine in 1996. She is the recipient of numerous grants and awards, including an Indiana Arts Commission Artists Project Grant, and a Focus Indiana Initiative Award for the creation of public art in Terre Haute. Her work is widely exhibited throughout the United States. She serves as associate professor of painting at ISU and resides in Terre Haute with her husband, two children, one dog and two cats.
The South Gallery & Project Room at Halcyon will feature paintings by Madeska. Describing his work, Madeska said: “I am fascinated by cuts of meat, aesthetically and conceptually. The colors and forms of raw meat are quite beautiful, and I challenge the viewer to see that in my paintings. As depictions of flesh, these paintings serve as meditations on our own mortality and vulnerability. Death and decay can be powerful statements of life. The whole process of preparing meat — pieces of flesh and muscle cut from carcasses and packaged for consumption, is endlessly interesting to me. A cut of meat is the result of acts of tremendous violence and yet is almost entirely — deliberately — banal in its presentation at the store and on the plate.”
Madeska attended the University of Wisconsin-Madison and received his bachelor’s degrees in art and anthropology with an emphasis in African studies in 2004. During the summer of 2005 he traveled to San Gemini, Italy, with a program from the University of Wisconsin-Milwaukee. While there, he studied historic preservation methods, learned traditional painting techniques including fresco, worked on an archaeological dig, and explored the cities, art, and cuisine of central Italy. After returning to the U.S., he enrolled in the School of the Art Institute of Chicago and In 2009, received his master’s degree in visual and critical studies with his thesis titled, “Food Poetics: Essays on the Use and Meaning of Food.” After graduation, he moved to Terre Haute. He has worked as a gallery assistant at the Swope Art Museum, completing a collections management internship there in 2010. While at the Swope, he also taught two courses for the Summer Youth Art Program during the summer of 2010. He currently works as the museum coordinator for the CANDLES Holocaust Museum and Education Center. He has exhibited work in various shows, galleries and auctions throughout the Midwest and beyond.