IWU ’13 alumni presents “Celestial Bodies” paintings

By Farah Bassyouni Jan29,2024

On Wednesday, January 24, at 11 a.m., IWU students and faculty were welcomed to attend a talk by Dustin Springer whose paintings are featured in the Wakeley Gallery.

Carmen Lozar, instructional professor and gallery director, welcomed everyone to the refreshments outside of the galleries before she introduced Springer. Lozar delivered a brief introduction about Springer’s past.

He received his Bachelor of Fine Arts in studio art from Illinois Wesleyan in 2013. Springer remains in the Bloomington-Normal area and continues to focus on figurative painting as well as pursuing an interest in glass blowing at Furnace Utrbini Glassworks. While his work is shown publicly and privately, one of Springer’s pieces was in the 2016 horror film “The Disappointments Room.” Before allowing Springer to discuss his collection of paintings called “Celestial Bodies,” Lozar added a personal comment.

Lozar said, “He is a genius, crazy talented, and really, really smart.”

Springer began his talk thanking the gallery, crew, viewers, and Lozar. Springer wanted to share his thoughts on “Celestial Bodies.”

Celestial bodies are natural objects outside of the Earth’s atmosphere, so Springer’s comments about his relationship with space caused the audience to laugh.

Springer said, “I hate space. I hate thinking about it.”

To him, space was daunting and inescapable since it surrounds the Earth. However, after hours of research, Springer was able to paint a view of space that he began to like. 

Springer said, “Space for me is the sublime, old landscapes centering a human in vast, awe-inspired nature.”

Springer then referenced his piece “Slingshot,” which is about the gravitational assist that occurs when an object comes into orbit of a larger body and then leaves again. Springer explained that the idea started with the concept of a slingshot, continued with centering the idea, and finished with the personification of that idea. 

Springer claims that the figure in the center of “Slingshot” represents a celestial body that is experiencing a gravitational assist. The expression on the celestial body’s face conveys what Springer imagined how it would feel to have to say hello and goodbye to the slingshotted object, looking wistfully away at the leaving object. 

Responding to questions, Springer explained why he uses objects that look like the human body in “Celestial Bodies.”

Springer said, “My focus has always been on the human figure. The human body is an entry point to talking about what we deal with everyday. Some (the figures in the collection) aren’t supposed to be people. They are vessels for an idea and give people an entry point into some of these concepts.”

Springer attempted to separate the celestial bodies in the collection by using a monochromatic color palette for the human-like figures. This monochromatic palette separates the figure from a person since it does not show human blushes or bruises. He also used gold and silver leaf, which he claimed were fickle colors to use. However, the colors were chosen to heighten the flattening of his ideas and to create a unified theme. 

Springer opened the end of his talk to questions and thanked the audience for attending. If anyone is interested in viewing “Celestial Bodies,” the Merwin and Wakeley Galleries are located in the School of Art on campus.

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