May 18 – July 30, 2021 @ Reece Museum
JOHNSON CITY – Two exhibitions of paintings are on display at the Reece Museum of East Tennessee State University – one by art professor Christian Rieben and another by Johnson City artist Joy McGinnis.
“Folly: recent work by Christian Rieben” is on exhibit through July 2, and “Moments of Illumination” by McGinnis continues through July 30. The museum is open Monday throughFriday from 9 a.m. to4:30 p.m., and special Sunday hours areheld June 6 and July 11 from 1-4 p.m. Admission is free.
In “Folly,” Rieben, a visiting assistant professor in ETSU’s Department of Art and Design, paints a world where whimsy and tragedy cohabitate—where Lewis Carroll meets Carl Jung, and the bluebells toll for thee. Overall, Rieben says his work could be divided into two categories – those politically motivated and not politically motivated.
“The larger paintings are older and were motivated by the political landscape of the last five years,” he said. “They are allegorical in nature, with characters and actions standing in for principles and philosophies. The smaller works are less specifically political, although philosophical interpretations are easy to make.”
The artist portrays a world that is “imaginative and sensual, but also enigmatic and potentially dangerous” through the 12 paintings featured in “Folly.” He states, “For me, the most compelling fairytales were those where ‘happily ever after’ was not a foregone conclusion. The protagonist may survive, but there will be a heavy price paid. Happiness means more when risk is involved.”
Rieben received his MFA from the School of the Art Institute of Chicago in 2006, and taught multiple art courses there. He also taught at Loyola University, the College of DuPageand the Dolphin School in Berkshire, England, before accepting his current position at ETSU. After living and working in Chicago and London, Rieben was eager to take a break from big cities. He moved to Johnson City and began teaching at ETSU in 2016.
Speaking of his new home here, he says, “I look out from one side of my house and see Buffalo Mountain, I look out the other and see pastures and woods. It is refreshing.”
As an art professor, Rieben uses teaching as a tool. “Teaching painting keeps my studio practice from stagnating,” he says. “I am often reminding myself to practice what I constantly preach to my students: nothing is precious, confound expectations, paint with conviction.”
Featuring 29 works, "Moments of Illumination" showcases artwork spanning 30 years of McGinnis's career. Her works, realized in oil, pastels, watercolor and mixed media, focus on the world around her: nature scenes, architecture and people from her home and travels.It is her connection to the subject matter that McGinnis finds the most fulfilling when painting.
“The subject matter that I am attracted to are those fleeting moments when light hits form,” she states. “In that moment, even a common tin can turns into a magical play of light and color, the beauty of which takes my breath away. These ethereal elements of light and color lift my soul to a higher level for that moment.
“It is my hope that my paintings will inspire others to become more aware of the beauty around us, to get out of our head (thoughts of past and future) and to begin to look for those moments of illumination ... the color of reflections in water, or the changing light at a different time of day.”
McGinnis received encouragement to pursue the arts as a young child growing up in eastern Arkansas.
“It was my second-grade teacher who noticed a precocious talent that I had,” she said. “She called my mother in and advised her to give me art lessons. I had the reputation of being able to draw, and when anything needed to be drawn, everyone came to me. So, when I went to college, my path was already pointed in one direction.”
McGinnis attended the University of Arkansas and graduated with a degree in art in 1967. Following her formal studies, she attended classes and workshops with renowned artists such as Elaine de Kooning and Wolf Kahn.
Follow the Reece Museum on social media for more content and digital programming. For more information, visit the museum’s website,etsu.edu/reece, or phone 423-439-4392. For disability accommodations, call the ETSU Office of Disability Services at 423-439-8346.