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Printmaker explores collecting and the creative process

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NORTH NEWTON, KAN. – Printmaker Peter Massing is fascinated with the creative process.

On Thursday, Nov. 1, Massing will open an exhibit of his prints, drawings and mixed media works in the Bethel College Fine Arts Center Gallery and, as the Greer Visiting Artist for 2007-08, will present the Greer Lecture at 7:30 that evening in Krehbiel Auditorium. The title of both exhibit and lecture is “Four letter words, collected and gathered.”

Following the lecture, there will be a reception for the artist outside the gallery. The event is free and open to the public.

Massing will also lead a drawing workshop Friday, Nov. 2, from 2-3:50 p.m. in Franz Art Center Room #13 that is open to the public. Call 316-284-5222 for more information.

In this exhibit, Massing titles his relief prints, drawings and mixed media pieces with four-letter words as a way to catalog the creative process. “This work is about my natural curiosity with finding things and doing something with that,” he says. “My intent is to expose how collecting and gathering is related to the creative process. I collect four-letter words and I gather objects that I find unique or inspiring. I find a connection between collecting found objects and how they might amuse me. Searching, looking and collecting are a common practice that I think relates to everyone.

“Finding new direction is most often realized when doing something again for the first time,” he continues, “like picking up a penny from the pavement or putting into order the things that have been collected. I think that what I do as an artist is a form of visual anthropology. The visual inquiry is labeling or illustrating experiences and putting those types of things together.”

Massing, a professor of art, adds, “I emphasize research, awareness and process in my classes. Collecting and gathering are ways to accumulate resources and experiences that can be applied to a wide range of technologies for investigation. When looking at works of art, I like to ask: ‘Where does the process begin and where does it end?’”

Massing is chair of the art department at Marshall University, Huntington, W.Va., where he teaches printmaking and drawing. He earned his M.F.A. in printmaking from Ohio State University. He has a B.F.A. in painting and drawing from the State University of New York at Buffalo and took the Summer Workshop on Plate Lithography at the Tamarind Institute at the University of New Mexico. He is a practicing artist and maintains a studio and artist collaborative workshop in Huntington.

The late Dr. Robert C. Goering, a native of Moundridge and a 1948 graduate of Bethel College, and his wife Amparo Goering, Wichita, initiated the Greer Fine Arts Endowment at Bethel College in 1979 in memory of Milford E. Greer, Jr., a native of Geuda Springs, Kan., and 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 Lecture Series brings visiting artists and scholars in the areas of music, visual arts or theater to the Bethel campus.

“Four letter words, collected and gathered” will be on display Nov. 1-30. Fine Arts Center Gallery hours are Monday-Friday, 9 a.m.-5 p.m. and Sunday afternoon, 2-4 p.m. The gallery is closed Nov. 21-25 for the Thanksgiving break. There is no admission charge.

Bethel College is a four-year liberal arts college affiliated with Mennonite Church USA. Founded in 1887, it is the oldest Mennonite college in North America. Bethel is known for its academic excellence and was the highest ranked Kansas college in the national liberal arts category of U.S. News & World Report’s listing of “America’s Best Colleges” for 2008. For more information, see the Bethel Web site at www.bethelks.edu.

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