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“In a Little While” Opens Ohio Northern University’s 2010 Gallery Season

FortushniakWho are we? Where do we come from? Where are we going?

These questions are examined in an upcoming exhibition titled “In a Little While” at the Elzay Gallery of Art and the Stambaugh Studio Theatre Gallery at Ohio Northern University.

Landscapes, juxtaposed with pop and industrial images against pastoral settings, are re-contextualized into a vivid statement of a personal quest to reveal a truthful perspective on contemporary American culture. The exhibit, by Prof. Ivan J. Fortushniak, runs from Monday, January 4 through Friday, February 19.

Fortushniak is an assistant professor of painting at Indiana University of Pennsylvania. He received his bachelor of fine arts degree in painting from Kendall College of Art and Design and a master of fine arts in painting from the University of Cincinnati. He has served as an assistant professor of painting at the University of Kansas and his work was featured in “Paintings and Drawings” at the Lawrence Art Center, in Lawrence, Kan., in 2005. Recent exhibitions also include Edinboro University of Pennsylvania, the Overbrook Gallery in Muskegon, KQ Fine Art Gallery in Minneapolis and the Heritage Gallery in Des Moines, Iowa.

Fortushniak has shown his work in a variety of venues across the United States and has work included in several private collections throughout the Midwest. His work juxtaposes water towers, smokestacks, and Boeing aircraft with landscapes inspired by George Inness, Winslow Homer and Albert P. Ryder. Most recently, he has been investigating the psychological implications that pop and historical icons have played in his nurturing and understanding of life.

“My work investigates the corrosion of historical landscape paintings and our manipulation of the environment through traditional and contemporary painting,” Fortushniak said. He often juxtaposes nature with the progression of mankind, noting that “every painting provides an opportunity to create a unique impression of our environment while informing the viewer about a turbulent past.”

Of course, the images he places within these settings play a vital role. Set against the injured representation of a natural setting, these man-made elements create a further sense of discord, interrupting the landscape by imposing foreign elements into our ordinary concepts of a bucolic setting.

Similar to the ways in which Fortushniak’s paintings combine traditional and experimental methods of painting, his intellectual approach to art also engages the dichotomies of contemporary society—pop culture vs. history; evolution vs. creationism—while at the same time examining the impact of modern industrial progress on the natural environment. In the process, he has also developed a faith-filled sense of meaning and purpose through an investigation into the psychological implications of pop and historical icons on his own understanding of life.

Seeing himself now as unhindered by the confusion of pluralistic ideas about the world, Fortushniak does not struggle for subject material, but rather for new and effective ways in which to communicate what he believes to be Truth.

“The realization of what truth, meaning and purpose are,” explained Fortushniak, “has liberated me from the burden of attempting to find it within myself or in the countless ideas of our culture. My struggles are no longer based on what I’m going to communicate and paint but rather how I’m going to communicate what has been revealed to me as Truth.”

Admission to both galleries is free and open to the public, daily from noon to 5 p.m. while school is in session. The Stambaugh Studio Theatre Gallery is also open prior to events held at Ohio Northern’s Freed Center for the Performing Arts. For additional information, to schedule a tour, or to be placed on the arts exhibition mailing list, please contact the department of art & design at 419-772-2160 or art@onu.edu. Visit the Art website for the latest information about times, locations and additions to the schedule.

Ohio Northern offers both the Bachelor of Arts and Bachelor of Fine Arts degrees with majors in advertising design, art education, graphic design and studio arts. The department of A&D holds memberships in national organizations such as the National Art Education Association, College Art Association, Foundations in Art: Theory and Education and the National Council on Education of Ceramic Arts. The department is recognized in the second edition of “Creative Colleges: A Guide for Student Actors, Artists, Dancers, Musicians and Writers” as one of the best creative programs nationwide. For additional information about the department of art & design or the University’s 2009-10 Arts Exhibition Season, contact the department at 419.772.2160.

image: Ivan Fortushniak; Lone Ranger is a Dead Ranger; 2008. Oil and collage.