Friday, October 26, 2012

Art show makes good use of ‘junk’

By Midge Reller
Cardinal Staff

Chair of the Saint Mary’s University Art Department Preston Lawing currently displays his “Cabinets of Curiosities” show in the Lillian Davis Hogan Galleries.

“Cabinets of Curiosities” contains fifteen sculptural pieces as well as 15,000 individual pieces in a hoarding-themed piece included in Lawing’s show. It will be on display until Nov. 4.

“Cabinets of Curiosities” mostly centers on the theme of “using and displaying your collections,” according to Lawing. He added, “In our culture, we collect, and it’s kind of a way of validating ourselves.”

The majority of his show was inspired after recently moving his mother into a retirement home.

“As a family, we had to go through all the stuff that had lived in one place for fifty years,” Lawing said. “In seeing that, I didn’t want for my eleven-year-old daughter to have to go through my stuff.”

Of all his pieces in “Cabinets of Curiosities,” Lawing said he has a favorite: a sculpture of his daughter’s hand reaching out from locks of hair lost during her chemotherapy.

“That’s probably the one piece I would grab if everything was on fire,” said Lawing.

Lawing said his show is about raising awareness of things collected over time.

“It doesn’t mean you’re more successful or a better person or more popular just because you have more things,” Lawing said. Instead, Lawing hopes to inspire creativity by encouraging others to look for ways of re-using their old possessions.

Identified as a traditional artist, Lawing described his exhibit in the Lillian Davis Hogan gallery as very untraditional.

“It was a big departure,” he said. “It doesn’t mean I’m going in this direction, but it’s something that I was focused on and had to get out. Now that I’ve done it, I can go back to my drawings and my prints.”

Lawing, originally from Boone, N.C., obtained schooling at Appalachian State University and continued on to receive his Masters in Printmaking at the University of Florida. Lawing taught art classes at several other universities before coming to Saint Mary’s University.  At SMU, Lawing has been teaching many of the hands on art classes for the past sixteen years.

Other than including pieces in the SMU faculty show that occurs every other year, Lawing said this is his first solo show at SMU in twelve years. Although Lawing has only done two solo shows at this particular gallery, he has done around twenty solo shows in other reputable galleries and museums across the country and around the world.

“As a printmaker, I do a piece and submit it to a printmaking show, so there would be printmakers from around the world that would be showing their pieces in that exhibition. I’ve been involved in probably several hundred exhibitions.” Lawing said.

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