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The Nantes Series

image of three works with the nantes series written on top of it

March 25th - April 12th, 2019
Lecture: April 4th, 3 - 4 pm
Reception: April 4th, 4 - 6 pm

This exhibition features mixed-media paintings by Brian Elder, an artist and educator living in Mt. Pleasant, MI. His work explores the concept behind location, and how people place themselves in their surroundings. He received his B.F.A. from the University of New Hampshire, and his M.F.A. in Painting from Indiana University.

Artist Statement

photo of brian elder

The Nantes Series came about as the result of an opportunity to visit a friend and spend time in Nantes, France. For years my artwork has involved a process of coming to know, an awareness of place, and the metaphorical ideas and connections that arise from making sense of the experience. When I work on a project, it is important to avoid having a fixed idea beforehand, but rather allow my experience to suggest possible themes, materials, and strategies in the development of the artwork. Because the ways that we see and know are very varied and often involve technology, I often include satellite images, meteorological data, star charts, geological maps, and other resources in my work.

In developing this project, the theme of memory became most important. Each work is shown in a series of three, starting with collaged photos and information that was painted on top. At a certain point, I considered this stage done and scanned it into a computer to make a copy and printed it out. The painting continued on this copy with areas obscured, elements preserved, and, in some cases, new connections formed. The work was then scanned and printed out again and the final layer of painting was worked on top. In the process of developing each painting I had no predetermined plan for how it would look, or what may or may not be left for the viewer to recognize from earlier states. I tried to react to the artwork as it unfolded, not unlike a visitor responding to their experience of a new place.

As a Professor of Painting and Drawing at Central Michigan University, my teaching is very important to me and I can’t help but think that the teacher in me is taking a larger role in these works from Nantes as I’m showing some of the considerations and strategies involved in developing an artwork. I’m happy with that. In fact, I have more works in the very beginning stages from this city to continue and explore.

I extend my appreciation to the Department of Art and Design at Central Michigan University for funding my time in this fascinating city through an Evelyn Fry-Smith Faculty Development Grant and to the University Art Gallery at Saginaw Valley State University for this opportunity to exhibit my work.

elder during his lecture

paris example

Photos of the artist are by Zainab Labbad. Photos of artwork courtesy of the artist, Brian Elder.

All gallery exhibitions, lectures and receptions are free and open to the public. Click the following link for open gallery hours or call (989) 964-2291. The University Art Gallery is located in the Arbury Fine Arts Center on the campus of Saginaw Valley State University,

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(989) 964-2291(989) 964-2291

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Shaun Bangert, Chair


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