Alumni bring together furniture and paintings, create interior design dreamland
The Ross Art Museum featured two contrasting exhibitions of two of Ohio Wesleyan University’s own alumni: Jim Zivic (’83) and Chris Kahler (’91).
The alums were gifted with the Distinguished Alum Exhibitors award—the highest honor OWU gives to its alumni.
The event began with a presentation by Kahler in Edgar Hall’s room 121. With 23 years of experience in painting, Kahler presented his work in the dimly lit but packed classroom of faculty, students and members of the community. His pieces were displayed in a slideshow as he talked about his experiences as a student at OWU.
“It was a very important time period in my life,” Kahler began.
“And many amazing things happened during those four years…and it made me use this as an opportunity to look at (my) work and how to evolve.”
The painter, who is in his 16th year of teaching at Eastern Illinois University, talked about the influences of various professors from his time at OWU and at Northwestern University, where he attained his Masters of Fine Arts.
He also marks a 3-month excursion to the prominent Vermont Studio Center—the largest international artists’ residency program in the United States—as something that influences his work.
Kahler mostly featured acrylic and watercolor paintings. He often uses a tremendous amount of layering and sanding to create the pieces. Additionally, the work is often inspired both by architectural plans and biological microbes or cell development.
“I get lost in the paintings…I don’t want to know how they end.”
Zivic takes a different approach to his artwork. He cites his influence from the Rust Belt town of Dover, Ohio, and his blue-collar heritage. Zivic is not a painter, but a craftsman.
The works featured in his presentation often involved industrial metalworking and use of leather or even coal. Currently a resident of upstate New York, Zivic’s clients included the former Velvet Underground singer Lou Reed and Gucci designer Tom Ford.
Zivic presented his work at the gallery to give the full effect of what he creates—from doors, light fixtures, and chairs made of leather or aluminum to nightstands made of polished coal.
“One thing that I figured out was that I am the ‘greenest designer’ in the world,” he said jokingly to the audience.
Zivic has been passionate about energy issues—in particular the effects of coal mining and fracking in the United States—for over 20 years. From his own record, he claims to have saved over 55 tons of coal through his incorporation of the rock into his designs.
He is also different from Kahler in that he began working directly in the field after attaining his Bachelor’s of Fine Arts from Ohio Wesleyan.
Works by both artists will continue to be on display at Ross from now until Sept. 21.