Art, chemistry professors find commonalities in artwork
UW-La Crosse professors from the Art and Chemistry departments will show their work in the University Art Gallery.
Art Professor Karen Terpstra and Chemistry Professor Adrienne Loh may come from diverse backgrounds, but their artwork depicting horses exhibits many similarities. They will show their artwork Friday, Nov. 3, through Saturday, Nov. 18, in the gallery located in 100 Center for the Arts, 333 N. 16th St.
Terpstra finds it interesting that the two, unknowingly to each other, have made similar connections to details, surface elements, and contexts in their respective mediums. “As an artist, I’m trained to see while working with materials,” she explains. “Adrienne is trained to see patterns as a chemist. As educators we teach our students the importance of visualization, the difference between seeing and looking, and stress the importance of experimentation and practice. We both ask our students to be open-minded, inquisitive and creative.”
“Karen Terpstra: A Cheval Retrospective” will run in the main gallery, while “Adrienne Loh: Suis ton coeur (Follow your heart)” will run in the adjacent Study Gallery.
The exhibition opens with a reception from 4-6 p.m. Friday, Nov. 3. Admission is free. Regular gallery hours are noon-8 p.m. Mondays-Thursdays, noon-5 p.m. Fridays and Saturdays, and by appointment and during events in nearby Toland Theatre.
Terpstra’s retrospective includes a diverse body of her artwork — pieces dating back 20 years to recently completed ones. It includes sketches, drawings reworked with watercolors or oil crayons, reworked giclee prints, and ceramics.
Terpstra’s lifelong passion has been horses. “The ‘horse’ has always been and always will be a major influence and the subject matter of my utilitarian and conceptual works,” she explains.
Since the gallery hasn’t featured a faculty retrospect in many years, Gallery Director Deborah-Eve Lombard lined up Terpstra’s work, as well as adding another faculty member’s pieces in the adjacent study gallery.
“I immediately thought about Adrienne’s new photographs she had been sending me, and noticed the similarities in our work,” says Terpstra. “Her recent work is also influenced by horses, but they’re not the kind of photos we are accustomed to. They are very unique photographs that depict intimate, detailed, and raw horse-related objects that most people overlook.”
Terpstra says Loh’s images are recognizable, yet vaguely abstracted and surreal. “My work also suggests or hints to abstraction and the surreal, so I thought her photos would complement my pieces in an interesting way and work well in the adjoining Study Gallery,” she explains.
Terpstra hopes viewers will appreciate the passion and dedication in her work. “I’m formally trained to be a ceramist, but that doesn’t limit me to clay,” she notes. “I’m really interested in reworking old drawings right now, so that’s what I’m having fun doing. I’m creating new connections between my old ceramics works and my drawings and vice-versa. Some of it just happened and some of it is intentional. It’s just part of the creative process.”
Terpstra hopes viewers will think about the wide variety of reasons human beings make art.
Looking through a lens
Loh’s works include photographs taken on an iPhone 6S and a Fuji X100S that feature elements of equestrian life. The two have shared their work with each other informally for years.
While Loh doesn’t ride horses, her daughter Madeline does. It was Terpstra who introduced them to her trainer, Christy Lowell, who is also the trainer for the UWL Equestrian Team. The photos were taken at the horse barn at Deep Roots Community Farm, where Madeline trains.
Loh says art and chemistry have much in common. “Professionals in each discipline are viewed by the public as being somehow outside the norm in their ability and/or interest in their craft,” she explains. “Both disciplines require that the practitioners visualize something that is in essence intangible.”
As a chemist, Loh says she is trained to see the essential components of matter and interactions on an atomic scale, which means creating images of objects in her mind that are far smaller than any optical device can detect.
As a photographer, Loh looks for essential physical elements that create a sense of place or feeling. “For me, both disciplines require similar approaches — creativity, experimentation, inspiration and a certain amount of luck,” says Loh. “The ability to explore the interfaces between disciplines enriches me personally and professionally. As an educator, I feel it is important for our students to appreciate that there are no real boundaries between disciplines, and that ideas and outcomes are richer and more interesting when different ways of thinking and seeing come together.”
Loh hopes viewers of her photography feel a sense of the space — physical and emotional — that those who live with and love horses occupy. “Maybe they will be inspired to look a little more closely at those things that make up the essence of the places we inhabit and the experiences we have,” she explains.
Loh says she’s humbled to partner with Terpstra as part of her retrospective. “She inspired me to search for a way to capture the essence of the connection between horse and rider and the space they occupy in some way,” she says.
This is the second exhibit featuring Loh’s work. Last year, she participated in a juried group show at the Pump House, “Structures: Art of the Urban Landscape.”
For more information, contact the UWL Department of Art at 608.785.8230 or www.uwlax.edu/art
If you go—
Who: UWL Art Professor Karen Terpstra and UWL Chemistry Professor Adrienne Loh
What: Karen Terpstra: A Cheval Retrospective and Adrienne Loh: Suis ton coeur (Follow your heart)
When: Nov. 3-18
Where: UWL Art Gallery, Center for the Arts, 333 N. 16th St.
Opening reception: 4-6 p.m. Friday, Nov. 3