Eva G. Farris Art Gallery
Artist Statement - Sheilah Grogan
My interpretations of the natural world became a dominant theme in my paintings after several visits to Ireland. This development in my work echoes a favorite quote of mine from Emerson, who said, "The Beauty of Nature reforms itself in the mind for new creation" I believe that is exactly what is happening with my paintings.
I am often drawn toward imagining the unlikely. Looking at a forest path, hills, or a lake, it is as if I am able to see right through its placid exterior. My mind's eye restructures the scene into a quietly fantastical realm where birds, flowers, sky, and earth do not behave as one normally expects them to. In that sense, my paintings rebel against reality. Although I base my paintings on real locations, I embellish them with my own mental codification of real experience and dreamlike perceptions.
The pictures are usually making statements about power and freedom. For example, in the painting Birds Feeding the Fish, airborne Eastern Bluebirds are seen bringing worms to the fish located in a pond beneath them, the birds exhibit the freedom to behave in a way that is plainly contrary to the natural order of things. This unlikely behavior is also evident in Secret Knowledge: The Curious Courtship Rituals of the Eastern Bluebirds, where a wedding party of the birds is witnessing the nuptials of two of their kind. In The Bee Thief, The Dragonflies, Butterflies, and Bees are busying themselves delivering flowers from the sky to the earth; meanwhile, the diminutive-but-impressive cat in the picture is daringly kidnapping one of the bees.
The Great Frustration depicts the tension between the cat and two of its natural enemies. The viewer is placed in the position of waiting for this scene to erupt. The anticipation of conflict, the expectation of future violence in this supposedly tranquil setting is to all parties, the frustration that plays out in the Natural realm every day.
I like to create images using casual pattern and a sense of motion in my pictures. This can be seen in The Parade where there is an informal pattern created by the seemingly random placement of birds in the sky and leaves on the ground. The Birds Watering the Flowers shows my use color to suggest lightness and a pristine transcendence.
There are certain artists that I watch.. One who I identify with very closely is Julie Heffernan for her mystic internal nature-world. I also enjoy the work of John Wilde for giving the viewer a freewheeling celebration of man and animals in nature. I am very influenced by a Cincinnati-based painter, Deborah Morrissey-McGoff, who paints tranquil departures from reality and her depiction of the nature within. I also like David Jones, with his deceptively simple expressions common to all men, placed in skewed landscapes. I return to these artists continually, because each one has something that inspires me, both technically and in spirit.
Art Gallery History
On June 21, 2007, Thomas More College unveiled the naming of the new Art Gallery as the "Eva G. Farris Art Gallery." Over 150 friends attended the celebration, which was a surprise to the honoree as part of the annual Thomas More College Foundation Event. After the unveiling, friends dined in the Thomas More Library and had an opportunity to tour the Gallery where a student exhibit was on display.
"For some individuals, giving of their time and resources comes naturally. Eva Farris is one of these special individuals," said Sister Margaret Stallmeyer, former president of Thomas More College. "She not only gives financial support to numerous organizations, but she serves as a committed and passionate volunteer throughout the community."
A portrait of Eva Farris, painted by Thomas More graduate, Taylor Stephenson '07, hangs on the entry wall of the Gallery. Ms. Stephenson is one of two Thomas More art graduates whose work was selected in a national competition to be displayed at Manifest Gallery in Cincinnati.