Artwork produced by the Lindsey Dunnagan, Laura Bigger and Eric Ordway, the newest members of Truman State University’s art faculty are currently on display in the Truman State University Art Gallery through Sept. 27. Their current group show, “New Work by Truman State Art Faculty,” shows the faculty’s latest creative research in a space accessible to both students and the public.
Professor Eric Ordway is in his first semester teaching ceramics at Truman. His series of large-scale ceramic pots, platters and jars tread the line between functional dishes and sculptures, an important distinction for Ordway.
“Sometimes it’s hard to do functional work … and translate that into a fine art gallery because people have that sense of home life,” Ordway said.
Ordway explained each of the pieces was based on items that are used regularly in the home, but the scale and addition of deep organic textures makes it clear that each is an artwork first.
Ordway said in each piece he asks, “What makes it a work of art and do we still have the debate of craft versus art?”
The exhibition features a variety of media that are rarely shown in the same space, a choice that makes walking through the gallery particularly exciting while also signaling that Truman doesn’t value one form of creative expression over another.
“I think it’s nice, showing the range of work that Truman carries,” Ordway added.
The work of Professor Lindsey Dunnagan, who has been teaching at Truman since 2016, occupies part of the outer wall of the main gallery as well as the adjoining Charlyn Gallery. Dunnagan’s work is primarily painted, but is accented by a variety of other media including charcoal, gold leaf, natural dying, carved wood and quilting.
“I’m really a curious person — if I feel like I’m not learning very much, I really get bored,” Dunnagan said.
Dunnagan’s work places human figures into ethereal landscapes, exploring how humans interact with the natural world both physically and spiritually.
Her series relate to the Missouri landscape and the earth, speaking to the human impact on the natural world, Dunnagan said. More specifically, her works relate to climate change, and remind viewers they are a part of the natural world.
Professor Laura Bigger, whose work occupies the central space of the gallery, has also been teaching at Truman since 2016. Bigger teaches printmaking, but like Dunnagan, she incorporates a variety of mediums into her work including watercolor, drawing, wood and other raw materials.
The work being shown is from multiple series, some finished and others in progress, all of which reflect how humans relate to the environment. “Elements,” located in the central space of the gallery, is an in-progress series focused on Bigger’s interest in raw materials, combining drawings with samples of the materials that interest her. She is also showing work from “The Most Tempting Game in the World,” a series in which Bigger pushes viewers to question their relationship to animals, presenting what she describes as the tension between our conceptions of wild animals as meat versus cute fauna. Her work shows a strong and ongoing interest in the current issues surrounding climate change and how humans relate to animals.
“I didn’t want my work to tell people what to do,” Bigger said. “I tend to want it to be more thought provoking and then to let people decide what they want from that.”
“New Work by Truman State Art Faculty” is free to the public and will be on display in the University Art Gallery through Sept. 27.