Clarion University’s art gallery is featuring work by visual artist Benedict Oddi in its first exhibition of the semester.
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On Wednesday, Feb. 10, Oddi delivered a lecture in the gallery where students and the public were able to express comments and questions about his work.
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Oddi received his undergraduate degree from Edinboro University and completed his masters at Indiana University of Pennsylvania. He taught a Color and Design course at Clarion in the 2014-15 school year as an adjunct professor.
The pieces he chose to display come from what were originally two separate bodies of work, but eventually morphed into a collaboration because the two collections have corresponding pieces within.
In his “Scout” series, which came first, Oddi used oil paints in what were referred to as “tar paintings,” and that was the foundation for his ideas. These pieces are mostly subtractive, where he lays the entire surface with oil and takes the oil away from his pictures. Oddi said this is the way he generates ideas for his works. He completes these tar paintings quickly as the oil dries within a few hours. Therefore, the pictures are impulsive.
His “Nomad” series is exclusively pen drawings, in which Oddi took the ideas from the tar version and created a more intricate, small-scaled version where he could further narrate his “story.” These pieces took significantly longer, about 40-60 hours apiece, due to the refined details he put into them as compared to their oil counter-piece.
When asked how he generated his ideas, or if there is a specific message being conveyed in each piece, Oddi responded, “I think for anybody, it’s a filtering of whatever’s happening in life, right? It’s a mixture of things you read, a mixture of things you know are happening in the world.”
Oddi said that his biggest inspiration is reading. He draws ideas from books that have touched him, notably “Gulliver’s Travels” by Jonathon Swift. He said he likes the idea of unveiling the narrative from within, something that he tries to employ in his own work.
Oddi purposely leaves the meaning ambiguous in his paintings. He uses symbols and clues, especially rock walls and caves, a repeating image in much of his work.
When asked about the caves and his reasoning behind them, he replied, “The cave, or whatever element, it’s unknown, like we don’t really know what’s in there. Might be shelter, right? It might be a safe place, might be an uncomfortable space, it might not be your space. So I like that relationship, you know. I think everybody wants to feel some level of security, and I feel like a cave is on some level, feels both safe and uncomfortable at the same time.”
Benedict Oddi’s work will be displayed in the University Art Gallery in Level A of Carlson Library until Thursday, March 24.