Exhibitions on view at the Hillstrom Museum of Art featuring works by Betsy Ruth Byers, B.J.O. NordfeldtFeb 15, 2016 at midnight to Apr 24, 2016 at 11:59 p.m.

Time: Feb 15, 2016 at midnight to Apr 24, 2016 at 11:59 p.m.

The Hillstrom Museum of Art presents concurrent exhibitions: Submerge, Recent Paintings by Betsy Ruth Byers, and FOCUS IN/ON: B.J.O. Nordfeldt's Two Pigeons, both on view February 15 through April 24, 2016, with an opening reception Monday, February 15, 2016, 7:00 to 9:00 p.m. Byers will give a gallery talk about her works in Submerge that evening starting at 7:30 p.m.

Submerge features works in oil, acrylic, and watercolor by Gustavus Adolphus College faculty artist Betsy Ruth Byers, who joined the College's art and art history department in 2011. Byers, who holds an MFA degree in painting from the Minneapolis College of Art and Design, has continued the long tradition at Gustavus of strong and excellent painting, both in her own work and in her teaching. Her paintings for this exhibit were made possible through the generous funding of a Minnesota State Arts Board Artist Initiative Grant and a Research, Scholarship, and Creativity Grant from the College. She was a prior recipient of an Artist Initiative Grant in 2009 and a New York Mills Jerome Foundation Artist Residency the same year. She has exhibited extensively, including at the Devos Art Museum in Marquette, Michigan; the Phipps Center for the Arts in Hudson, Wisconsin; the Keyes Gallery in Stony Creek, Connecticut; the Minnesota Museum of American Art in St. Paul; and the National Galleries of Scotland in Edinburgh.

In an artist statement for Submerge, Byers writes:

"My studio practice explores the engagement of the body's senses with the surrounding environment. I am compelled to make work that focuses on wilderness experiences due to my growing fear over our disconnectedness to the natural world. The formative years of my youth were spent on and in the lakes of Northern Minnesota. The influence of water, swimming and the boundary of the shoreline are evident in my work.

I find that I repeatedly return to the water as a way to understand and to contextualize my presence in our hectic and hyper-paced world. The act of submerging indicates a willingness to let go and to be consumed by something larger than oneself. Painting requires a similar fearlessness to the act of diving under the surface. While painting, I am able to dwell in the space between uncertainty and understanding. The paintings in Submerge play with the slippage between real and imagined landscapes; present and past moments; objective and subjective knowledge.

Inspired by Lake Superior, the work hints at the interaction between the lake, horizon, shoreline, rivers, islands and rocks. I choose to straddle the divide between representation and abstraction as a way to explore and engage with our fragmented experience of the ever-shifting surface of the water. This includes translating phenomena such as the reflection and dissipation of light, the shifting pattern of waves, the straight horizon line, and the changing variety of hues related to the depth and opacity of the water.

Painting requires a delicate balance between observation and action. For me, it is a meditation on the complicated relationship between our bodies and the landscape we inhabit. Painting is also a powerful tool in communicating the ability of our senses to embody, learn, and understand from our collective environment."

Submerge is accompanied by a fully illustrated brochure, free of charge to visitors, and most of the works are available for purchase from the artist.

FOCUS IN/ON: B.J.O. Nordfeldt's Two Pigeons is another of the Museum's FOCUS IN/ON projects, in which a single work from the Hillstrom Collection is analyzed in depth in collaboration with a colleague from across the Gustavus Adolphus College curriculum. Two Pigeons (1952), an oil painting by Swedish-American artist B.J.O. Nordfeldt (1878-1955), is considered in an essay co-written by Michael Ferragamo, associate professor in biology and psychological science and director of the Neuroscience Program, and Hillstrom Museum of Art director Donald Myers. The project explores the artist Nordfeldt, his career, and his group of paintings depicting pigeons. It also considers pigeons from a cultural point of view as well as from a cognitive and neurobiological vantage, such as their remarkable mental acuity that includes self-awareness and the ability to find their way back home from hundreds of miles away.

FOCUS IN/ON: B.J.O. Nordfeldt's Two Pigeons is accompanied by an illustrated brochure free of charge to visitors. In conjunction with this FOCUS IN/ON project, additional works by Nordfeldt from the Museum's collection will also be displayed.

As with all the programs of the Hillstrom Museum of Art, these exhibitions and their opening reception and the gallery talk by Betsy Ruth Byers are open to the public and are free of charge. Additional information about the Museum and its programs can be found at gustavus.edu/hi

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