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Abstract painter, a Venezuela native, will give Greer Lecture April 4

NORTH NEWTON, KAN. – An abstract painter and native of Venezuela now living in southern California will give the next Greer Lecture at Bethel College.

Mariángeles Soto-Diaz will speak April 4 at 7:30 p.m. in Krehbiel Auditorium in the Fine Arts Center. The lecture, which she has titled “Abstraction at work (and at play, even),” is free and open to the public.

Soto-Diaz has work on display, along with that of 10 other artists, in a show called “Postpartum” currently hanging in the Erman B. White Gallery on the campus of Butler Community College in El Dorado. Bethel Assistant Professor of Art Rachel Epp Buller was guest curator of “Postpartum,” on display through April 5.

“Postpartum” closes with an artist reception at the E.B. White Gallery, April 5 from 6-8 p.m. Besides having Epp Buller as curator, the exhibit includes work by former Bethel art professor Merrill Krabill, now of Goshen, Ind., and Bethel graduate Lora Jost of Lawrence.  

Other Kansas-based artists are Carla Tilghman, Lawrence, Debbie Wagner, Salina, and Barbara Waterman-Peters, Topeka, in addition to artists from California, Connecticut, Toronto and Washington, D.C.

“Postpartum is more than a response to childbirth, but covers a wide range of issues encountered in the extended postpartum period,” Epp Buller said. “The artists included here – who are both men and women – address the postpartum body and mind, broadly understood.

“The postpartum experience can encompass major changes in identity, or a motivation to social activism, or experiences of loss and grief,” she added.

The E.B. White Gallery is open weekdays from 9 a.m.-5 p.m. For more information, see www.butlercc.edu/visual_art/ebwhite.cfm or contact John Oehm at 316-322-3171.

Mariángeles Soto-Diaz is a Latin American conceptualist painter whose work has been exhibited internationally and is in numerous private and public collections.

She studied at the Instituto de Arte Federico Brandt in Caracas and received a B.A. from Hampshire College, Amherst, Mass. She earned her M.F.A. in painting from Claremont (Calif.) Graduate University as well as an M.A. in aesthetics and politics from CalArts, Valencia, Calif.

From her aromatic “kitchen paintings,” made with spices, to her chocolate-inspired pieces, Soto-Diaz’s work has moved critics to write that it possesses “an unusual intimacy that refuses to be interpreted by banal codes” and that it “vindicates painting” in a “promising synthesis of North American and Latin American geometric abstraction.”

“Most of my work has implicit connections to my native country, Venezuela, where oil production made the promise of modernism more tangible, and its failure more poignant, than elsewhere in Latin America,” Soto-Diaz said. “I ruminate on the future of abstraction while glancing back at Venezuela’s collapsed modernist project – its chromatic remains – through the fracturing prism of contemporary conditions.

“I work with paint, paper, ink, slides, spices, UPC codes and vinyl tape,” she added. “But my favored material is paradox: the promise and perils of utopian abstraction, political formalisms, universal specificities and the underlying order of chaos.”

To learn more about Soto-Diaz and see images of her work, go to www.sotodiaz.com.

In her April 4 Greer Lecture at Bethel, Soto-Diaz will show a selection of her color-driven series and articulate how philosophical, political and aesthetic issues are materialized in her work.

In addition, Soto-Diaz will spend the next day conducting a painting workshop with Epp Buller’s students.

The late Dr. Robert C. Goering, a native of Moundridge and a 1948 Bethel graduate, and his wife Amparo Goering, Wichita, initiated the Greer Fine Arts Endowment at Bethel in 1979 in memory of Milford E. Greer, Jr. A close friend of the Goerings, Greer was interested in literature and music and excelled as an artist. He died in an auto accident in 1972 at age 45. The Greer Endowment helps bring visiting artists and scholars in the areas of music, visual arts or theater to the Bethel campus.

Bethel College is the only private college in Kansas listed in the 2012-13 Forbes.com analysis of premier colleges and universities in the United States and ranks in the top five “Best Baccalaureate Colleges” in the Washington Monthlyannual college guide for 2012-13. The four-year liberal arts college is affiliated with Mennonite Church USA. For more information, see www.bethelks.edu.