Odd Referents: An Art Faculty Exhibition

Tim Lowly Painting

Tim Lowly is preparing an exhibition of his art pieces this spring, which includes a large piece he's painting on a plywood frame mounted on a wall on the third floor of Brandel Library. Lowly chose the library location because he needed a wall big enough to hold his creation, "Bower," and because it seemed fitting in his role as the University's artist-in-residence.

"What that has meant is just being present to students as a professional artist in addition to being a teacher," said Lowly, assistant professor of art. "It's intentional so that the making of art becomes 'present,' so that people just walking by can see how a work of art comes into being." Lowly's creative work in public places such as the Carlson Art Gallery, Swedish Covenant Hospital, and now, Brandel Library, has resulted in opportunities for conversation with students, faculty, and staff. In this case, some have inquired about "Bower" while he paints. They often describe to him what the painting means to them, Lowly said.

"Bower" is an artistic depiction of Lowly's daughter, Temma, a frequent focus of his work. The larger-than-life image of her, with head bowed, is the result of a photograph with a texture overlay. Temma, 27, lives with physical and mental impairments.

As he looked at the photographic image he created, Lowly said he wondered how it would look if it were a 10-foot tall painting. "It becomes really powerful for me because you have this person who is utterly humble, and she's bowing to you," he said. The size of the piece also tends to make viewers think about scale, the size of life, and the close proximity of the painting's subject, he added.

Lowly started his artistic creation in the gallery last summer before relocating it to the library, where he has worked on it since. In March, he will take "Bower" to an exhibition at the College of the Ozarks, Point Lookout, Mo. This fall, it will be part of a large, one-person exhibition at the Visual Arts Center of the Washington Pavilion, Sioux Falls, S.D.

Sally Anderson, Brandel Library director, said she was happy to make it possible for Lowly to create the painting in the library for all to see. "Other artists have displayed artwork in the library, but we've not had someone actually working on a piece in the library," she said. "We see this as part of the library's mission."

When he began working on his art piece in the library, Lowly asked if other art faculty could display original pieces on the library's walls. Brandel Library is currently displaying 21 original pieces, the creations of seven University art faculty members: Kristen Althoff, Deb Hendriksma-Anderson, Josh Ippel, Tim Van Laar, Lowly, Jordan Martins, and Kelly VanderBrug.

"It's really exciting for students who are studying here to see original work. They will walk down the library hallway, and see something unexpected," said Joanna Wilkinson, the library's technical services and digitization coordinator. Wilkinson is responsible for art installations in the library.

The faculty art exhibition will remain in the library through the spring semester.