By Emily Klingman
Bright, bold colors currently fill the art gallery in an exhibit featuring work from artist Bill White’s career.
With a collection of pieces spanning his life as an artist, White’s love of life shines through his work in “Life in the Studio,” which is on display now through Nov. 25.
Working mostly with students in the studio setting, Dr. Harry Naar, art gallery director and professor, wanted to pick an artist relevant to the students’ interests.
“I thought that the kind of work he was doing would be of interest to students because the work that I’m selecting is basically work from the studio,” said Naar. “For my students, a lot of them are really, really impressed because they can relate to it. It’s working directly from life and it’s in the studio setting.”
One thing that made White’s work stand out was his use of vibrant colors. White told Naar in an interview for the gallery’s catalog how Van Gogh influenced his work.
“Van Gogh was my hero as a kid because his work felt so vivid, it just moved me,” he told Naar.
“I think students are really pretty excited about the kind of color he uses. It’s very strong color and they like his painting technique,” said Naar.
Another trait of White’s work is his combination of still life, the figure, and the landscape in one piece.
“[The students] like the subject matter which incorporates interior views that have still life objects plus sometimes the interior views have windows that look out into the landscape,” Naar said. “That gives them a really good example of interior/exterior scenes.”
White was scheduled to speak with students in a gallery talk on Oct. 30, but unfortunately had to cancel because of illness. According to Naar, he and students were looking forward to hearing White’s perspective, as an art professor himself at Hollins University.
“Like myself, he taught for very many years,” Naar said. “He really relates to students. [White] was looking forward to the talk because he wanted to be able to talk to students.”
Being able to communicate with students on their level is important and valuable to the learning experience, according to Naar.
“I think it’s very different having someone who’s taught art and who has taught other college students,” said Naar. “He can understand where they’re coming from sometimes a little bit better. He can also anticipate in many ways, from his teaching experience, the kind of questions he may be thinking.”
Although this exhibit focuses on his paintings on canvas, White has also worked with a variety of other mediums, including watercolors and small drawings. Naar said that, at his talk, White was supposed to bring some of his sketchbooks to help show students his process.
“He thinks about the organization, the composition, and the design, which is something that we try to teach in our own studio class here at Rider,” said Naar. “There’s a rhyme and a reason for why you’re doing what you’re doing. That sometimes can separate a really good painting from a painting that’s just OK.”
Naar believes people who see this exhibit in the art gallery will enjoy the work White has done.
“Because the images that he creates are images that people can relate to, it’s been very positive,” Naar said.
In the catalog interview, White said he wants viewers of his work to see the progression in his career and life in painting.
“I hope that this exhibition will reveal something unifying about my journey over five decades of painting,” said White. “My love of color continues from my start as a kid, and it drives my work today.”
Printed in the 11/12/14 edition.