On the campus of St. Gregory's University there exists a treasure which, like all great treasures, is found buried in the ground. However, this treasure is not something that you would find inside a museum … it IS a museum.
The Mabee-Gerrer Museum of Art (MGMoA), with its low profile and sloping earthen borders, will be hosting a treasure of its own beginning Sept. 11, when OBU Professor of Art Steve Hicks displays his exhibit at the MGMoA. The exhibit, titled "Looking Back, Looking Forward," is a celebration of the artist and will feature his works produced over the years, including recent work. Hicks' exhibit will run through Oct. 25 and there will be a reception and artist talk Sept. 11 at 7 p.m. in the MGMoA.
Hicks' display celebrates the 35 years he has spent teaching art to the students of OBU and features an array of themes and styles.
"My work is concerned with color and light, sometimes in a realistic form and sometimes in a more abstract form," he said. "Details often obscure the abstract elements in all forms. The exhibition includes examples of several themes I have utilized, including the Van Gogh portrait series."
Hicks' Van Gogh series featured portraits of Van Gogh using some of the famed artist's techniques. Hicks went on to parody Van Gogh's somber self-portraits by adding comical clothing and props to the subject, creating such works as, "Day-Glo Van Gogh," "Arapaho Van Gogh" and "Bass Pro Van Gogh."
"You don't have to be solemn to be serious about something," said Hicks.
Throughout his years as an artist, Hicks has drawn on a number of individuals for inspiration, and, like his project's title suggests, he has his mind set in both directions.
"I have studied with and been influenced by many artists, some of whom have been mentors as well. We all stand on the achievements of those that have gone before us."
It is unlikely that any student of the fine arts at OBU has not been influenced by Hicks, who said he feels a special connection with his pupils.
"I have enjoyed working with the art and design students here at OBU and now count many of them as friends and fellow artists," Hicks said. "It has been great to see their growth and success in the various art forms that they have embraced. A degree in art or design equips one to work in any number of areas."
Likewise, Hicks feels great admiration and respect for those he has worked alongside during his years on Bison Hill.
"I have also enjoyed working with people that I count as friends as well as colleagues. It has been a pleasure to work with such competent and caring people over the years. Julie Blackstone, Corey Fuller, Chris Owens, Delaynna Trim and Brad Price are all example of such people. Former Professors of Art Janie Wester and Aaron Jones should be mentioned too, as well as Lee Bond, former chair of the art department, who was a great help to me when I started teaching here years ago."
Although it will be difficult to summarize 35 years of hard work that Professor Hicks has given to the community of OBU or the inspiration he has both given and received in that time, the artist himself speaks fondly of the show.
"The exhibition is an outstanding overview of my artwork as it has transpired over my years at OBU. It is wonderful to see it all presented in the venue that the Mabee-Gerrer Museum of Art has provided. This is a world-class museum, and Shawnee and OBU are blessed to have access to such a facility."
Doubtlessly, Shawnee and OBU were blessed to have access to a world-class artist the past 35 years.