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Gallery Gone, Artwork Still Coming to Ferris

by Published: Sep 18, 2013

A Lesson in Art: Maria Angeles gives attendees lessons on how to paint in the Oaxacan style during a workshop at the Artworks art gallery. Courtesy Photo By: Ben Rettinhouse

A Lesson in Art: Maria Angeles gives atten­dees lessons on how to paint in the Oaxacan style dur­ing a work­shop at the Artworks art gallery. Courtesy Photo By: Ben Rettinhouse

In the absence of the Rankin Art Gallery, Ferris State has had to relo­cate its art dis­plays to Artworks in down­town Big Rapids. The cur­rent col­lec­tion on dis­play, “Creatures Great & Small: The Rich Tradition of Oaxacan Art” show­cases a unique branch of Hispanic art unheard of by most north of the border.

In part­ner­ship with the Office of Multicultural Student Services, Carrie Weis, direc­tor of the Rankin Art Gallery, received a grant in order to bring the exhibit to Ferris’ cam­pus as part of Hispanic Heritage Month. Weis says she wanted to bring the exhibit to Big Rapids to show off the dis­tinct style of Oaxacan art.

“Part of my job is to bring art here that peo­ple don’t see every day”, said Weis. “And espe­cially with this col­lec­tion and how tal­ented the [artists] are, I feel this exhibit has a lot to offer to the com­mu­nity, so thank­fully, with [the] help of OMSS, we were able to bring it here.”

The first of two inter­ac­tive work­shops run by the exhibit’s fea­tured artists, Jacobo and Maria Angeles, was held in the Upper Gallery of Artworks and allowed com­mu­nity mem­bers to try their hand at paint­ing in the Oaxacan style.

Jacobo and Mario Angeles have built a fam­ily busi­ness around cre­at­ing carved wooden ani­mals dec­o­rated in the Oaxaca style. The process begins with the copal tree, which is usu­ally carved into the shape of an ani­mal. As Jacobo Angeles describes it, the nature of the ani­mal is depen­dent on the trees curves and imperfections.

The paint­ing process can be likened to chem­istry, as true Oaxacan art is painted with ground pig­ments, lime­stone, and cit­rus fruit, all com­bined in such a way as to make just the right color. Once the base paints are added, the tip of a cac­tus thorn is used to draw intri­cate designs on the figurine.

“There are other peo­ple who do Oaxacan art,” said Weis, “but nobody I could find did it quite like the Angeles do it.”

The Angeles also held a demon­stra­tion of the cre­ation of Oaxacan art in the lobby of the Interdisciplinary Resource Center on September 16th from 1–3 pm. On September 25th from 1–4 pm, a work­shop in which stu­dents can par­tic­i­pate will be held in IRC 134.. Students who attend the work­shop will learn how to cre­ate paint and dec­o­rate their own fig­urine in the Oaxacan style.

In addi­tion to the work­shops, a sep­a­rate col­lec­tion on loan to Ferris from Jack and Susan Batdorff will be avail­able for view­ing all around Big Rapids. The col­lec­tion can be viewed at both FLITE and the lobby of Williams’ Auditorium, as well as the Artworks Upper Gallery, open Tuesday through Friday. The exhi­bi­tion will be in Big Rapids until October 31st.