The Man From Snowy River, a show that includes some of the work behind Elijah Loving’s graphic novel, based on A.B. Paterson’s poem of the same name, is less a finished product – you can pick up the publication for that – and more a work in progress. The pieces represent a journey from inception to completion and the processes applied along the way. They are appropriately retrospective for a series that depicts Paterson’s story of risk and triumph.
Loving, Graceland’s graphic design professor and alum of the school, whose background includes abstract illustration and graphic design, says stories have always been important to him. In the case of The Man From Snowy River, a sentimental importance helped drive the creation of his latest work. It was during graduate shows, where Loving displayed his abstract work, that he was pushed by his grandfather to make something different, something that told a story.
After his grandfather’s passing, Loving started to think about where he could go with this sentiment, and what stories he would like to tell. The Man From Snowy River, a favorite of his grandfather’s, was to be his leap into visual story telling. The tale of a rider, willing to take his own leap to show his courage and determination, weaved inside of a poem with a form that lends itself seamlessly to the blocking of a graphic novel.
The transition between Loving’s previous work and that seen in his show was not without its trials. Taking a history of abstract work and trying to morph those talents into the human and animal forms in his novel was not easy, but Loving believes that this history helped him to deconstruct these forms to their basic levels: rectangles, triangles and circles. Once you can see them deconstructed, it’s just a matter of reconstruction and refinement, a refocusing of the lens, as he called it.
This new series is not devoid of some of his old tendencies, however, as some of the most striking visuals come from the contrast between the familiar forms and those of the abstracted landscapes that give a backdrop to his story. Using ink and watercolor on paper, Loving was able to construct wholly recognizable forms and elements, while maintaining the color and vibrancy seen in his abstract pieces.
The process is evident in The Man From Snowy River, the show a display of the work in a completed sense, as well as the work in an active sense, the work put in. What can be taken away from Loving’s show is a broader understanding of all art, and the idea that art is a process yet we usually just look at the finished product. Each creation is in itself a cliff, each start a leaping off point. As long as we make it down, as Loving says, “even if we don’t make it down unscathed,” we can look back at the cliff and momentarily be amazed at our accomplishment, before setting off to our next big leap.
Book signing and reception is Friday, September 16th, 2016 in the Helen Center’s Constance Gallery.
The show is open through September 23.
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