How one professor’s journey inspired an exhibition of art

In the fall of 2013, Professor Carol Lee Chase traveled to Istanbul, Turkey to experience the rich culture the city had to offer. When she returned home, Chase was inspired by her journey and created the exhibit now on show at the Catherine G. Murphy gallery known as Souvenir.

It was one fateful day sitting in an art history class years ago that Chase first learned of the Hagia Sophia, a church turned mosque turned museum that presently stands in Istanbul, Turkey.

From that point onward, Chase decided that one day she would like to go to visit Istanbul to see the magnificent Hagia Sophia for herself.

“It’s a spectacular building and has always been my sort of artist pilgrimage…to actually just go see it,” said Chase. “You can walk around for hours and still find new things there.”

This is what persuaded her to apply for a Minnesota State Arts Board Artist Initiative grant. Chase was fortunate enough to be awarded the grant to accomplish her dream of traveling to Istanbul to learn more about its art, culture and, of course, the Hagia Sophia. More information about this grant can be found here.

This trip to Istanbul, during the months of October and part of November, is what kick-started the creations now on display in the exhibit. For the last year, Chase had been working on these pieces, which mostly consist of oil paintings. However, she had already started four of the works on display before leaving on her trip.

“I had this idea of what Islamic patterning is but it was nothing like what I saw …. I misinformed myself before I left,” Chase said.

This is the reason why some of the pieces look as if they are covered in a sort of mystical veil; because her starting pieces were veiled beneath the mystery of what she did not yet know.

“So this idea of veiling…trying to see behind things, is one of the central themes in the show…what’s behind what you’re looking at,” said Chase.

One of the focal points of the exhibit is called Lanterns with Screens which is made from ink and paper. The bead like splashes of ink on the paper were created by using a medical syringe filled with ink to make long stripes down the paper like a beaded curtain.

“It was very satisfying as it developed just having all these panels and then the lanterns were all improvised,” said Chase.

Along with the exhibit, on Mar. 12 at 7 p.m. Chase will be giving a talk in the Catherine G. Murphy Gallery on campus that pertains to the art featured in her exhibit.

“Along with the show, I’m going to have a presentation about my artwork and talk about more of the ideas behind it and probably about some of the work that kind of lead up to this particular body of work,” said Chase.

For an artist, an exhibition is a big deal so it comes as no surprise Chase is proud of her work.

“Having an exhibition is kind of like…writing a book or an important paper and having it published,” Chase said.

As anyone can tell by simply walking into the exhibit, Chase’s works of art are a wonderful sight to behold. The varieties of color and texture presented in the pieces do well to compliment the rich culture of Istanbul and are sure to please both artists and students alike.

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