Ars de Geometria

Recent Works by Chris Stewart

January 27–March 2, 2008

Chris Stewart. Ar de Gemoetria I, 2007. Woodblock print, 9 7/8 x 11 5/8 inches

Chris Stewart. Circimus II, 2007. Woodblock print, 9 7/8 x 11 5/8 inches

The harmony of abstraction is the focus as the Tyler Museum of Art continues its tradition of showcasing Texas artists with the opening of its new exhibition, Ars de Geometria: Recent Works by Chris Stewart.

Organized by the TMA, the exhibition is open to the public from Friday, February 1 to Sunday, March 2 in the Museum's Bell Gallery.

Stewart, chair of the visual arts department at Tyler Junior College, will be on hand for the exhibition's opening reception, scheduled from 4:30–6:30 p.m. Friday, February 1 at the Museum, highlighted by a gallery talk featuring the artist at 5:30 p.m. The public is invited and admission is free, but reservations are requested by calling 903-595-1001.

Ars de Geometria showcases Stewart's most recent work in the medium of unique, non-editioned woodblock prints, incorporating multiple hand-carved woodblocks consisting of single, simple – "and occasionally, not so simple" – geometric patterns. The exhibition title refers to an artistic approach during the late Medieval and early Renaissance periods, during which artists and artisans looked toward the purity and symmetry of mathematical and geometric forms to derive an understanding or deeper meaning of the natural world they were attempting to represent.

"While my images make no reference to recognizable forms or subject matter, I do hope they capture or reflect the harmony and rational simplicity sought by these remarkable – and unfortunately, in many instances, anonymous – artists," Stewart said. "The majority of the geometric motifs I've appropriated came from the exquisite tile and mosaic decorations of Italian churches, primarily Tuscan and Umbrian, of the 10th through the 15th centuries."

A native of Abilene, Texas, Stewart gravitated toward artistic forms in his childhood, deciding to pursue an art career as he enrolled at Texas Tech University, where he received his BFA degree in 1985. He was awarded an MFA from the University of Nebraska at Lincoln in 1989, en route to joining the art department faculty at TJC, where he has served as chair of the college's visual arts department since 1994.

Throughout this career as an art instructor, Stewart has continued to explore a diverse array of genres and media in his own work, finding recent inspiration in the exacting process of transferring inked impressions of carved woodblocks onto Japanese paper to create his individual prints. The artist characterizes the process as one that allows him room "to explore the colors, textures and patterns that constitute the unique and subtle language of the woodblock print."

"This body of work represents my artistic ideas, energies and activities of the past year," Stewart said. "Creating these prints is a cathartic process for me, and I hope everyone enjoys looking at the pieces as much as I enjoyed making them."