Dreams, discovery propel printmaker to create; Free artist talk Thursday at ETSU
Visual artist Oscar Gillespie works without plan, from intuition, dreams, quirks of nature and life events, allowing a narrative for a piece to flow naturally out of the moment, or at least, his day. Each of his works – whether the process is metal-plate engraving, monotypes or intaglio – keeps him in exquisite suspense until the very end.
Gillespie will discuss his intuitive style and process – and “how ideas begin and grow over time in an artist’s career” – at East Tennessee State University on Thursday, April 6, in an artist talk at 7:30 p.m. in Ball Hall Auditorium, Room 127. A Q&A and reception will follow. In addition to the free talk and reception, the art educator will lead a workshop in engraving for ETSU Art & Design students while on campus.
Gillespie’s own artistic Zen began developing when he was growing up in Northern Arizona and roaming his grandfather’s farm “where there was a wonderful menagerie of all sorts of beasts and fowl.” He wanted “to capture them in some way without harming them or caging them.”
That fascination with the natural world, he says, drives his work – whether the inspiration comes from reality, reverie, rituals or dreams that morph “into magical beings.”
As an undergraduate in art at Northern Arizona University, his fancy was captured – in an artist workshop with Andrew Rush – by the “odd” burin tool and making cuts in a copper plate. He subsequently changed his major to printmaking and earned his BFA in printmaking at NAU and an MFA from Arizona State University. The burin just became an extension of his hand and his penchant for drawing continued, just on differing surfaces.
Since 1974, he has shown his work in more than 300 solo, group, invitational and juried exhibitions. His work may be found in more than 60 public collections, including the Fogg Museum, Harvard; The Museum of Fine Arts, Boston; the Denver Art Museum; the Walker Art Center, Minneapolis; the Nelson-Atkins Museum, Kansas City; the New York Public Library; the Plains Museum, Fargo, North Dakota; and the National Museum of Posnan, Poland.
“I’ve known Oscar since the 1980s,” says Mary B. Martin School of the Arts Director and art faculty member Anita DeAngelis. “Oscar works primarily in engraving, and engraving is a skill set that is difficult to master. His engravings are absolutely stunning, so it’s not surprising that his work is in many artists’ portfolios and he is much in demand. Students and faculty at ETSU asked us to bring him back, so we are thrilled to be able to do that.”
While his work has been shared around the world and is taken seriously by artists and art experts, Gillespie says his pieces often start with a giggle. He encourages artists to employ their sense of fun or a tease of the senses to incite a mental and creative journey of discovery.
For more information on Gillespie, visit www.oscarjaygillespie.com.
For information about the artist talk or ETSU Mary B. Martin School of the Arts, visit www.etsu.edu/martin or call 423-439-TKTS (8587).