December 6, 2023

New Exhibit Incorporates the Senses in Visual Art

Stephen Watson exhibit in Barrington gallery. Photo by Nate McReynolds.

By Evangelina Opoku-Nyarko ’21
Staff Reporter

Stephen Watson, an artist and assistant professor at Samford University, showcased his paintings, sculptures and spice installations in an exhibit at the Barrington Centre for the Arts, themed “Patterns of Devotion” on Saturday March 24.

Watson installs spices like lavender,  paprika, chili, mint, rosemary and cinnamon to create artwork patterns. He said that his inspiration for using spices was to give the work more power.

Watson said, “The more senses you can get involved in art making, instead of, say, only seeing. If you can get the nose, involved it gives the work more power. So it’s a way of trying to strengthen the work by giving it more things happening on a sensational level”.

Watson’s other pieces were made from a repeated quadrilateral shape uniquely combined to make different patterns. He wrote about the shape in his artist statement saying “It is saturated with what seems like endless possibilities, and though I have drawn it thousands of times, I can’t seem to wring it dry”.

Watson further linked the shape to his exhibition theme with the words. “Every few weeks I discover something new about the shape, and I marvel at its ability to keep on giving as my relationship with it lengthens and deepens. In that moment, I am also reminded that some discoveries are only accessible by means of devotion,” he said.

On the day prior to the exhibition, Watson worked with some Gordon Art majors on installing his work for display. Two Art majors. Justin Kedl (‘18 ) and Anna Farrell (’18) who were among the students helping Watson in his installations remarked that using spices for artwork was a new concept to them.

Farrell said, “It was very inspiring and at the same time confirming to me to be using so many different materials in a way people wouldn’t expect.” Kedl also stated that “The idea of being patient with one shape and continually coming back to it is really inspiring.”

The message Watson sought to carry across with his artwork was for people to see beauty in ordinary everyday things. He said the role of the artist is “to interrupt life as usual. That’s what taking ordinary things is all about and trying to find the beauty and significance of things. Help other people see the world afresh; see it anew; help people see the world through the artist’s eyes”.

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