Exhibit displays non-formulaic art

Aryn Plax
Metro Editor

Professor of Art Ruth Trotter answered students’ and faculty’s questions about her abstract art during the opening reception of her exhibit noon Wednesday in the West Gallery.

Trotter discussed the lack of apparent meaning in abstract work before the audience.

The exhibit consisted of seven abstract paintings made with acrylic and oil paint, called “Temple,” “Mariner,” “Distance and Displacement,” “Schema,” “Apparition” and “The Riddle.”

“I take for granted that everything I’m thinking about is okay, and it’s okay not to be explicit,” Trotter said.

“Another thing I aspire to in art is for the painting to emerge out of its banality and to become present, and I would like my paintings to have a presence in much the same way that a person has a presence, and that’s not something that’s really quantifiable.”

Presence, as interpreted by the audience, referred to what personality each painting would have if it were an actual person.

“Apparition,” with its off-center circle formed by smudged white streaks and blots of white and red paint against a blue background, could be interpreted as “angry.”

Other paintings, with their calmer, lighter colors, may be seen as having happier personalities.

Trotter said that sometimes, part of her personality is present in her work.

“I think it’s inevitable that who I am emerges from the pictures, and that’s part of my process,” she said.

Trotter does not make sketching part of her process.

She said when she makes collections of paintings, she tries not to make her work formulaic – essentially, she does not try to do the same process each time, nor does she want all her paintings to look alike.

“I don’t do sketches for any of my paintings, even though I make you guys (students) do it,” Trotter said.

“I don’t because, in my experience, it’s too much of a mediation for where we’re focusing on as an artist. I need to have that direct and autonomous connection to my work. If I plan too much, it becomes fake.”

Associate Professor of Physics David Chappell, who taught an honors class with Trotter about the connection between art and physics, said there are similarities between the art and the science world.

In the class, he tackles questions like ‘can a painting could be considered a scientific experiment?’

“I asked a question during the talk ‘Do you see these as experiments’ and I think she said yes,” Chappell said. “But of course, they’re much more than that.”

Senior political science major Mariela Martinez, who works in the Harris Art Gallery, heard about the show through her boss.

Martinez followed Trotter’s work for four years and said her favorite painting is “Apparition.”

“I’m trying to figure out where it starts and where it ends,” Martinez said.

“When I look at art, I always like to think about the process it took to make it, and this one just puzzles me. There’s so much, the different colors and tones, and depth, the circle, and the DNA, the different strokes and shapes, and the continuation that occurs.”

Aryn Plax can be reached at aryn.plax@laverne.edu.

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