DELAWARE, Ohio – A life-size metal figure is among the sculptures featured in the latest exhibit at Ohio Wesleyan University’s Richard M. Ross Art Museum. The bright red bloke has his head cocked to one side and his mouth drawn into an astonished “o.”
The sculpture – created by Gambier, Ohio, artist and Kenyon College professor Barry Gunderson – is aptly titled “Man Surprised By The Things He’s Made.” The sculpture looks over a collection of 50 smaller metal sculptures that Gunderson playfully refers to as UMO’s – “Useless Metal Objects.”
In all, Gunderson has created 50 UMO’s, and the Ross Art Museum exhibit marks the first time they will be displayed in one place. The welded-and-painted aluminum sculptures are included in a larger exhibit titled “From Liverpool to Ohio with Stops in Between,” which will be on exhibit at the Ohio Wesleyan venue from Jan. 15 through Feb. 17.
Gunderson will give an illustrated talk at 3:15 p.m. Jan. 17 in Room 101 of nearby Edgar Hall, 35 S. Sandusky St. An artist’s reception will follow immediately afterward till 6 p.m. at the Ross Art Museum, 60 S. Sandusky St. Both events are free and open to the public.
During a recent visit to Delaware, Gunderson explained the artistic journey that led to his new exhibit. “It’s a geographical and mental journey,” he said, incorporating 3-D artworks inspired by visits to England (Liverpool), France (the Gardens of Versailles), the Midwest (as he traveled from Ohio to his native Minnesota), and even dreamland (as he whimsically explored the thoughts that keep people awake at night.)
Gunderson’s teaching sabbatical in Liverpool resulted in “A Door of One’s Own,” a series of painted wood sculptures inspired by the abundance of duplex-style townhouses (terrace houses) and the efforts of their owners to display their individuality through paint and other decoration. “To make these objects more sculptural rather than architectural models, they are exhibited on the walls with the roofs thrust out into the space of the gallery,” Gunderson explains in his artist statement. “My consistent love of form, color, and texture are again prominent in this series.”
The trip to France inspired “A Second Look at Versailles,” a sculptural interpretation of portions of the Gardens of Versailles. “Simulated shadow play became a very influential character in each piece,” he states.
The long car rides from Ohio to Minnesota inspired “Dirt,” a series of painted wood sculptures that explores the “abstract patterns of plowing, tilling, seeding, and growing.” The sculptures also were inspired by Gunderson’s appreciation of the artwork of Grant Wood, best known for the iconic painting “American Gothic.”
Gunderson said he never visits a place with a preconceived goal of the artwork he will create. Instead, he allows himself to be inspired by what he sees. This “Man Surprised By The Things He’s Made” has taught sculpture at Kenyon since 1974. He earned his Bachelor of Arts degree from Augsburg College in Minneapolis, completed graduate work in studio art at the University of North Dakota, and earned his Master of Fine Arts degree in sculpture/painting from the University of Colorado.
Ohio Wesleyan’s 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. The museum is fully handicap-accessible and admission is always free.
Founded in 1842, Ohio Wesleyan University is one of the nation’s premier small, private universities. Ohio Wesleyan offers more than 90 undergraduate majors, sequences, and courses of study, and 23 NCAA Division III varsity sports. OWU combines an internationally focused curriculum with off-campus learning and leadership opportunities that connect classroom theory with real-world practice. Located in Delaware, Ohio, OWU’s 1,850 students represent 41 states and 45 countries. The university is featured in the book “Colleges That Change Lives,” listed on the 2012 President’s Higher Education Community Service Honor Roll with distinction, and included on the “best colleges” lists of U.S. News & World Report and The Princeton Review. Learn more at www.owu.edu.