Donnie Copeland, assistant professor of visual arts at Ouachita Baptist University, is presenting an exhibit, “An Emphasis on Substance,” from Jan. 27 through Feb. 23 at Henderson State University’s Russell Fine Arts Gallery.
The exhibit, which is free and open to the public, features 19 abstract compositions using a variety of media. The HSU art department and Aaron Calvert, director of the Russell Gallery, invited Copeland to present the exhibit.
“It is a pleasure for me to show my paintings whenever or wherever,” Copeland noted, “but this is an added plus in the sense of having this opportunity to strengthen friendships across the street.”
In recent years, Copeland has been exploring the concept of substance, which led to the collection of work he is presenting in the Russell Gallery.
“Some time ago I asked myself what is essential for me about painting,” he said. “I came to the well-known conclusion that it is ultimately the material, or substance, on a surface. That substance, whatever it may be, is very important.”
From this central idea, Copeland continued to explore the additional layers of meaning of “substance,” from physical to intellectual to emotional, especially when it comes to his works.
“For the last few years I have been painting in a way that places a greater emphasis on the stuff of which paintings are made,” Copeland explained. “I am interested in what the paintings are rather than what they might be a picture of.
“In another way, on the other side of the process and making is looking. … and looking is really about you, the viewer,” he continued, explaining that what a viewer brings to the artwork is an important element of the artistic experience, leading to any number of possible interpretations of a piece.
“I am cautious of divulging too much about [what the paintings represent] to the viewer for fear of spoiling all the fun,” Copeland said, adding that the titles of his works are intentionally devoid of such information for the same reason.
“What I will tell you,” he said, “is that all works are informed by and respond to environmental stimuli” such as landscape, music and other art forms and the rhythm and emotion they convey. “In this light, the work could be seen as a picture of emotion, taking something without form and giving it form. This is especially exciting for me and is an essential function that art performs.”
One of Copeland’s compositions has also recently been accepted to the prestigious annual juried Delta Show, on display at the Arkansas Arts Center through Feb. 20.
For more information, contact Donnie Copeland at firstname.lastname@example.org or (870) 245-4655.