An opening reception will take place from 5-7 p.m. Thursday, Dec. 1 for the exhibition and two accompanying art shows. The downstairs Hanchey Gallery will feature work by students who participated in the New Mexico session. Gallery II will feature the graduate exhibition of M.A. candidate Patty McAllister, who also went to New Mexico.
“The paintings represent my attempt to amplify and portray to the viewer, not only the look of New Mexico, but the feel of New Mexico, the clarity of color, the intensity, the mood, the atmosphere and the spirit,” Downs explained. “Works in this exhibit range from representational to abstract. The more abstract images deal with a response during my last trip to the textures of rock and the spiritual essence of the markings made by the Native Americans who inhabited this mystical landscape. Whatever their nature, representational or abstract, they deal with my response to the art, culture and landscape of New Mexico.”
Student and faculty explored galleries and museums of Santa Fe and Taos, painted and photographed the landscape at Ghost Ranch and experienced the changing environment of rain, cold, mist, sun and snow, Downs said.
“For many of the students, it was a life changing experience,” Downs said.
“Nature, of course, was very inspirational,” said Eva Wilson of Sugar Land, Texas. “It was an entirely different atmosphere in New Mexico as opposed to here. The air was clear and dry and the mesas seemed to touch the sky. Climbing up the hiking trails was a wonderful experience. The people there were so friendly, and it didn't feel like it was dangerous at all. We were always smiling throughout the whole trip. I think there's something in the air there that just makes you happy.”
“Seeing the artwork in Santa Fe was very inspirational to me, almost as much as the natural formations and history of the area,” said Alicia Anderson of Quitman, who will exhibit photographs, paintings and a stained glass piece in the show. “I enjoyed the reactions of the other students to the new experiences of such a different climate. We giggled and laughed at almost everything, it was so much fun just hanging out with everyone on the journey. I also think it was the air, or the altitude.”
The exhibitions and reception coincide with Northwestern State’s annual Christmas Gala, which will begin at 7 p.m. Nov. 30, Dec. 1 and Dec. 2. During the reception Downs, Coordinator of Art Matt DeFord and student Hannah Koslosky will perform a song inspired by the trip.
Faculty and students in Northwestern State’s Department of Fine and Graphic Art are planning a fund raiser tentatively scheduled for March 2012 with proceeds to help defray the cost of a 2012 summer trip to New Mexico.