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Multicultural Center Art Gallery Exhibition
Exhibit: "State of The World"
An Appalachian Perspective
Featuring: Appalachian Peace and Justice Network (APJN)
(Click Here for more Exhibition Details)

Participating Artists Statements:


My interest in the environment, and in producing art that responds to the human activity that is undermining its stability, goes back to 1979 when I participated in an anti-nuclear protest where 100,000 plus demonstrators marched on Washington DC in response to the Three-Mile Island reactor accident.  Since then I have developed a number of art projects that document and respond to issues relating to environment pollution, over-population, over-consumption, and other concerns that impact the environment.


This recent body of work, Pernicious Substances, attempts to illustrate the insidious nature of chemical pollution.  Whether it is C8 in the local water supplies or mercury emissions produced by coal burning, these substances have a dramatic impact on the bodily and mental health of Americans. 


I currently reside in a country setting just north of Chillicothe, Ohio.  I came to Ohio in 1985 to assume duties at the Chillicothe campus of Ohio University where I am currently a Professor of Art.



We live in a throw-away world! Everything seems to be disposable.

We are destroying the very planet that sustains our lives!
We abuse our natural resources and don't look back.
Yet, some people call it progress!


Progress has consequences far reaching our globe, but here, in Appalachia, the consequences are more visible, more devastating, and more crippling than on average. Our resources have been mined, our people exploited, our air and our streams polluted and then forgotten.


I am amazed at the things we take for granted!

I often equate "progress" to the destruction of our planet earth.
As I stood on the bank and snapped this picture...I thought...  
Just a small plant, down on the river, in Southeastern, Ohio?

I wonder... how long is it going to take us to destroy the whole planet?




I am a military mother.

I believe in a strong military.

If we have a responsible government and a strong military, we should never
need to engage in war ­ but we have engaged. I am profoundly disillusioned
with our current government leadership.

My son's deployments (to Iraq) have been the most terrifying experience I
have ever had to endure. Each day he is there is the day he could die. The
poems are excerpts from entries in my diary and the images are
interpretations of those that flash in and out of my mind every moment ­
asleep or awake. My art serves as therapy as well as a vehicle to inform. I
spew my anger, fear and dread.

Through these years of extreme anxiety, my son has by example taught me
humility, compassion and what real courage truly means.

Bless all who serve, have served and those who have fallen, and to their
families, with whom I feel I share a familial connection.


The themes and subjects of my paintings have been influenced by my experiences of growing up in southern Ohio.  Both my grandfather and father were practicing artists, and some of my earliest recollections are of them encouraging me to draw.  This artistic inheritance resonates strongly throughout my work.  As I familiarized myself with the arts, I became aware of the myriad devices used within painting.  I intuited great value in Rembrandt’s scenes of economy, and also in his distilment of strokes.  Upon examining Rembrandt’s work, I became intrigued with how the human form could be captured in such terse marks.  Rembrandt helped give me the understanding of the relationship between light and color.

After executing many portraits, I longed for a way to represent not a person, but a people.  It was during this period that I gravitated toward the works of Gustave Courbet, and developed a keen appreciation for his implementation of social consciousness.

Another great influence upon my work was Edward Hopper.  I was amazed by the way in which this particular artist’s compositional devices psychologically impacted his audience.  Hopper’s lone figures and cinematic settings inspired me to include narrative implication in my work.

It is through various experimentations and self-evaluations that I have honed my skills as a painter.  My paintings explore connections to home.  Like Courbet, I tell the story of my surroundings through the power of narrative, and in doing so, I represent a way of life that goes unseen by many.  My work creates an inner dialogue between its characters.  One of the goals of my work is to prove that there is something epic in the ordinary, and so I present the viewer with a pivotal yet seemingly mundane moment that illustrates what has already happened and what is about is about to happen.  

In my work, I paint the figure using the model’s expressions and gestures in order to establish a connection with the viewer.  Additionally, my figures are juxtaposed to both conflict with and complement each other.  This discrepancy compels the audience to reflect on the dichotomies of everyday life .

These images are from central Brazil, near the Peruacu River in northern Minas Gerais. I used a 35 mm Leica camera and a 40 mm lens with Kodak print film (ASA 25) or Kodachrome (ASA 60). The photographs have not been digitally manipulated.


Stephen Silliman, who makes his home in Albany, Ohio, studied Fine Arts at Bowling Green State University, where he earned a bachelors degree in Art Therapy (1992).  As a result of his training and background, Stephen tends to explore societal problems and the psychological issues of people through his work. Every painting is meant to contain dual meaning, expressing not only societal issues on a macro scale, but also human struggles on a personal level. He attempts to capture some aspect of the human condition in all of his work.


Artistically, he draws inspiration from artists such as Kandinsky, Jackson Pollack, Edvard Munch, Chuck Close, Audrey Flack, and Edward Hopper. Stephen tends to work in a style that has been inspired by Post-Impressionism and Expressionism.


The work entitled “Earth Murderer” is meant to capture the tragedies of both the destruction of our mother-earth and the sexual abuse of children; many who will become the next generation of mothers in our society.



It is important to me to create art that is original and unique. I enjoy experimenting with a variety of natural and man-made items in my art. As a traditional medium, I prefer watercolor paint. I believe my art instructor, Lane Raiser, has influenced me in not only my painting preference, but my creativity as well.


Last summer, I completed my coursework as a Painting Major at Shawnee State University. While attending classes, I worked part-time caring for the grounds. Although I have a passion for landscaping, I also took great pride in cleaning up trash on campus. I envisioned a series of artwork entitled "Campus Creations". I wanted to take things that are ugly and disgusting and create new things that would attract people's interest. I'd like to inspire others to visualize new uses for things they would ordinarily discard.


Hopefully, one work of art that makes people think will be "Death on Display"; my collection of cigarettes collected one by one on Shawnee's campus. I believe this work of art vividly exhibits our society's disregard for personal health and well-being and also the shameful lack of pride and care for our precious green earth.



The mobius circle art design is homage to French mathematician Ferdinan Mobius (1776). I call this design the Bridge of Understanding. It could represent bridges between humans or human with the natural world. It could also be a representative of the mind-body-spirit. To me, it symbolizes the interconnection of matter that makes up the Universal Life Energy Force. We are one with the insects; the rivers; the mountains; the moon; and the stars. The world could be at peace if we could only find and honor that Healing Bridge


1.  Oasis Spill

Oil Paint and Band-Aids on Panel

48" x 36"

This is a roadside landscape common to our region.  The Band-Aid surface brings to light several contradictory feelings I have about this sort of roadside development.  Band-Aids accompany scars and injury.  The trash, spilled oil, light pollution, visual clutter, etc., that are associated with various commercial developments constitute an environmental scar.  At the same time, like the Band-Aid, this kind of development was created in a spirit of optimism.  Someone wanted to make a buck to support their family, and someone else just wants some gas to get where their going, maybe relax with a cigarette.  Band-Aids are applied when we care about the injured, when we want to provide comfort.  As I look around Appalachia I see lots of oasis spills, environmental scars brought about our noblest intentions to provide care and comfort.  


2.  Start Seeing Humanity 

Graphite and Pencil on Paper

8" x 8"

Drawing is a wonderful tool for thinking visually.  In this piece I wanted to see if I could learn something about peace by working with a few images pulled from a popular news magazine.  In the end I found inspiration in the faces of hostile protesters and mournful victims, and dark clouds from so many different kinds of fires.  Rather than clutter a tiny image with every particular detail from the many stories I sought to find some pearl shining beneath them all.


I like the ambiguity of eyes, are they projecting a message or seeking answers?  How am I using my eyes?  Am I looking into the eyes of others in a spirit of empathy and compassion?  How fair is my gaze?  They eyes in the drawing come from a particular person, but that person's identity has been deliberately withheld.  Is this person's humanity visible?  How would they be seen if their identity were reveled?  For whom does the dark cloud rise?




I live in Athens, Ohio, a small, rural town in the region known as Appalachia that is also the home of Ohio University.

The physical world around me often contains colors, forms, textures, and visual relationships that are surprising and rich.  The camera is one way that I collect and re-present some of these surprises.  My inspiration for all of my photographs is that I believe life is to be enjoyed, pursued, and engaged in the varied ways that each individual finds rewarding and meaningful.

"Athens Station" is a photographic collage in the sense that the particular position from where the image was taken created a visual organization of a horizontal three part banding. The colors, forms, and textures in each portion of the image seem independent from the rest.

"Carpet Shop Window" presents a colorful remnant and unintended display. The peeling paint of the back window of this shop has a painterly quality and a vivid color palette.



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