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New exhibits include works by Bishop Hill artist

Three new exhibits are on display at Monmouth College’s Hewes Library, including works by Bishop Hill artist Steve Carleson.

Carleson’s exhibit will be on display in the library’s Everett Gallery through March 29. A reception for the artist will be held on March 23 from 3 – 5 p.m., with a gallery talk at 3:15 p.m.

The father of Nora Carleson, a 2011 Monmouth graduate, Carleson and his wife live in Bishop Hill, where he was the director of the Bishop Hill Heritage Museum and Historical Preservation Association. A dozen years ago, the couple founded the Outsider Gallery in Bishop Hill, which features their works, along with creations by several other artists.

Carleson said he frequently uses boxes in his art, with the form representing the Christian standards from his childhood. Over time, those standards have changed and have taken his art to a completely different level – one that he claims is “dark, irreverent and often cynical.”

Filled with mixed media that is chosen specifically and hand-crafted with great precision, Carleson’s art “is an example of the people, places and things that shape my view of the planet. … It is a celebration of the socially and politically incorrect and forces the observer into a state of self-examination and exploration.”

At a glance, many see Carleson’s art as “highly creative,” but he insists that his works are pure inspiration from “random instances of everyday life. … Simply put, I communicate my experiences. People open my boxes; they understand and smile.”

Next door in the library’s Gallery 203, a selection of Asian scrolls that once belonged to 1910 Monmouth graduate Takashi Komatsu are on display. Komatsu donated the scrolls to his alma mater, as well as a selection of traditional Japanese woodblock prints.

On the library’s main level, near the Einstein Bros. Bagels shop, the traveling collection of winning entries from the Associated College of the Midwest’s annual off-campus photo contest are on display. Included is “Play on Land,” which MC senior Alyse Cole took in the fall of 2010 while participating in the ACM’s Florence program.

“While in Venice, it was very different to see children playing in the squares in front of churches or just anywhere they could find dry land to play on,” said Cole, a talented artist from Washington, Ill., who received “Best of Show” for a painting in last fall’s student exhibit. “It was just such a difference for me. No grass.”

Jake Reznick from Carleton College was awarded the 2011-12 grand prize for “Day’s End,” his graceful image of a fan maker at work in China. Nine other photos were awarded first, second and third place in each of three categories – People, Stories and Artistry – and 14 photos received honorable mention recognition. The winning photos were selected from among 131 photos entered in the contest through the ACM colleges’ off-campus study offices.