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Artist Brings the Outdoors Indoors


Dayton area artist Gretchen Durst Jacobs prefers to work en plein air, or out-of-doors, unless that air happens to be cold.

She has faced alligators, snakes, steep ravines and other hazards to better portray the immediacy of the landscape. Her work is now on display at the Elzay Gallery of Art and the Stambaugh Studio Theatre Gallery through Nov. 14.

A public lecture and artist reception is planned for Friday, October 22 starting at 5p.m. in the Wilson Art Center on the campus of Ohio Northern University. The Elzay Gallery is located on Gilbert Street and is connected to the Wilson Art Center, the classroom-studio building that houses the department of art & design.

“Being outside for me is just incredible. It’s also uncomfortable, inconvenient and a hassle sometimes, but it’s worth it,” Jacobs said.

Working outdoors deepens and expands her relationship with the landscape. The work serves as a reminder of our connection with nature by providing a metaphorical lifeline to our aging planet.

“Growth, adaptation, rejuvenation, survival, cyclical movement and death are apparent in nature” explained Jacobs. “I see and feel these principles in the undulating creeks and rivers, and in the linear elements of the forest. I also find them hiding within chaotically entangled branches of living and dead trees. I note how closely these organic systems mirror my bodily systems and I feel a connection as I am pulled deeply into the multi-layered ecosystems of the woods and water.”

Conceptually, Jacobs wants the viewer to be pulled into her work. She wants people to be reminded of their own connection to nature. She indicated that she “provides a metaphorical lifeline to our aging planet. Today, it’s easy to become removed from nature, separating ourselves from it, and limiting our experience of the natural world as something we have to go to - outside of ourselves. My artwork serves as a reminder that we are of the earth, not separate but equal.”

Jacobs currently is an adjunct professor of art at Wright State University where she teaches drawing, painting and color theory. She earned her BA degree from Wright State University and earned her MFA degree from the University of Cincinnati.

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 Visit for the latest information about times, locations and additions to the schedule.

The 2010–11 academic year marks the 50th anniversary of the Bachelor of Arts degree in art at Ohio Northern University. Growing from a single-discipline school, the department offers both the Bachelor of Arts and Bachelor of Fine Arts degrees with majors in advertising design, art education, graphic design and studio arts with concentrations in two-dimensions, three-dimensions and art therapy. 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 also recognized in the second and third editions 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 2010-11 Arts Exhibition Season, contact the department at 419.772.2160.

image: Hickory, Riverside Three Trees, oil on board, 2010