Maryville College professor presents art exhibit: “New Things”

Maryville College Professor of Art Dr. Carl Gombert presents his series of paintings, “New Things”, in the Clayton Center for the Arts’ Blackberry Farm and William “Ed” Harmon Galleries this month. The paintings feature an abstract mixed-media style focusing on bright, bold colors and an eclectic variety of stamp designs and found objects. 

“I make things,” Gombert said in reference to this new collection, “And maybe eight to ten years ago I stopped painting realistic, figurative imagery and started making decorative, pattern-based paintings, prints, and collages. I’m inspired by all kinds of patterns and the sort of magic that happens when you repeat, combine and rotate shapes. So, this has emerged out of that work.”

One of Gombert’s pieces, “Flight,” can be found on display in Clayton B.

Photo courtesy of MC Communications.

Of the many art pieces currently on show in Clayton, Gombert claims that those in his collection are all inspired by traditional sacred mandalas, appalachian quilts, and islamic architectural design and how their designs emphasize patterns and geometry to showcase the world. 

In his artist statement, Gombert described his own show as, “[An] attempt to balance opposites, relying equally on dark and light and on positive and negative shapes… both humorous and serious. In this little world there is symmetry, balance and order but neither rhyme nor reason. And, they sparkle.”

Gombert’s process of creating his paintings is not as meticulous as one might expect for a project that centers on geometry and powerful shapes. His inspiration derives mainly from “following the work instead of leading it”. 

A major part of his creative process includes “auditioning” a stamp. Gombert begins by putting a stamp on a post-it note in the middle of the canvas to see how it would potentially look in relation to other stamp designs and colors. From that point, Gombert chooses other stamps to compliment the first that also fit the theme he is working towards with that particular piece.

Gombert holds a fondness for several of the works in this collection, namely two pieces called “Flight” and “Knob.” In particular, “Knob” features a three-inch housefly stamp, fluorescent hot pink acrylic paint and laser-cut boxes.

“I think one of the things, for me, that makes the process so fun is that they look so planned and organized but they are really improvisational,” Gombert said. 

After skipping last year’s opening faculty members’ exhibit, Gombert is excited to present his latest work to the public. Before moving on to Troy University of Alabama next month, “New Things” will have a reception where Gombert will speak more in depth about his series on Fri., Sept. 27 from 6 p.m. until 8 p.m. 

The event is completely free and Gombert made sure to mention, “There will be cheese.”

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