The Wabash College Art Department will host an opening reception for artists Nhat Tran and Orie Shafer next Monday, February 28 at 8:00 p.m. Their exhibition, “Unveiled Layers,” will be on display in the Eric Dean Gallery Randolph H. Deer Fine Arts Wing.
Unveiled Layers aptly conveys the underlying design principal these two artists use to create their work. While both create compositions by layering media and allowing each layer to emerge through the upper surfaces, their approaches are radically different.
Orie Shafer creates ‘hybrid’ paintings, combining digital technology with the materials and methodology of traditional art. He applies transparent and bold colored opaque oils to the large-scale paintings, creating dynamic compositions filled with extraordinary energy.
While allowing minor sections of the digital ‘under painting’ to remain uncompromised, he reveals the origins of the layered history of its evolution. Though abstract, there is a sense of landscape.
“My work differs from other forms of mixed media painting in the way it combines digital technology and traditional art materials, which give each final work of art a unique sense of layering,” said Shafer. “Some sections of the digital under painting are left untouched, while other areas are changed by oil paint applications that run from transparent to completely opaque. My hybrid painting technique creates works that are fresh and project tremendous energy while revealing a layered history of its evolution.”
Shafer exhibits extensively across Indiana and the United States.
Nhat Tran, a Vietnamese immigrant, utilizes the 6000-year-old Japanese process of urushi (lacquer) painting. Through non-traditional usage of urushi techniques, she achieves stunning visual effects unobtainable in other media.
“Urushi is a viscous organic sap that is tapped from several species of Asian trees,” said Tran. “It is a highly resilient and durable medium that is impervious to water, heat, mold, and insects; it has very strong adhesive properties and polymerizes when curing; and it provides a full array of gorgeous effects of textures, depths, layers, colors, light, and shine. As the years go by and the pieces age, their colors keep getting richer and more intense.”
Tran’s work contains up to 40 layers of lacquer, often embellished with exotic materials and precious metallic powders and foils between layers. Her sense of esthetic embraces the Asian soul. The result is elegant, understated, complex, and deserving of lengthy observation and contemplation.
Tran’s works are in numerous public and private collections, including the Renwick Gallery, National Museum of Women in the Arts, Corcoran Gallery of Art, Indianapolis Airport Authority, and Indiana State Museum.
The exhibition opens Monday, February 28 and continues through April 8. The Eric Dean Gallery is open Monday through Friday, 9:00 a.m. to 5:00 p.m., and Saturday from 10:00 a.m. to 2:00 p.m. The Gallery will be closed during Wabash’s spring break (March 5-14).
At top: Mistic Skyline by Orie Shafer
At bottom: Fragile Words (2000) by Nhat Tran from the Indiana State Museum Collection