Stillwater News Press

Arts & Entertainment

October 13, 2011

Oklahoma State gallery exhibition showcases steel sculpture

Reception Thursday for sculptor whose work is exhibited in Stillwater

STILLWATER, Okla. — A new exhibition at an Oklahoma State University art gallery showcases works done in a somewhat nontraditional artistic medium.

“Displacement: Recent Work by Jonathan Hils” features hand-wrought steel sculpture by the University of Oklahoma art professor. The exhibition opens this week.

Hils’ work is primarily abstract rather than representational and reflects an interest in a number of areas, particularly in biology and industry, he said.

“My interests include the aesthetics of biology and industry that generate patterns, chaotic organization and self-organizing systems,” he said. “The ideas of emergence and chaos are primary elements of the work I create.”

Each piece of Hils’ work is the result of a repetitive process that includes cutting, bending and welding by hand. Other than the process of bending steel repeatedly, no real automation exists in his methods, Hils said.

Hils has worked primarily in steel for approximately eight years. The factors that attracted him to it as an artistic medium are the same factors that have attracted countless generations of builders — its permanence and structural integrity.

In creating his work, Hils said he tries to break away from the idea of steel being both physically and visually heavy. By combining small linear elements of steel to create an intricate work, Hils said he hopes to suggest properties that are more closely associated with lighter materials, like fabric or textiles.

“I enjoy trying to make the steel feel light by giving it a more feminine quality,” he said.

Hils said he hopes to help viewers gain a better understanding of contemporary art. He hopes viewers walk away questioning how his work, especially elements like time and space, might apply to them.

“I hope people walk away with a sense of wonder and questioning what the forms I make might allude to from their perspective,” he said. “How time is specifically represented through the work is an element that most people seem to enjoy.”

“Displacement: Recent Work by Jonathan Hils” will remain on display at the Gardiner Art Gallery until Nov. 4. An opening reception will be held from 5 to 6 p.m. Thursday, followed by an artist’s lecture from 6 to 7 p.m. in the Bartlett Center for the Visual Arts. In conjunction with the exhibition, one of Hils’ sculptures will be on display at Stillwater Public Library.

The Gardiner Art Gallery, inside the Bartlett Center for the Visual Arts, is open weekdays from 8 a.m. to 5 p.m. and Saturdays from 10 a.m. to 2 p.m. Admission is free.

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