La Sierra art senior tells family’s stories in gallery exhibit
March 27, 2013
By Darla Martin Tucker
RIVERSIDE, Calif. – (www.lasierra.edu) The muted hues of detailed watercolor and pencil illustrations and the faded typography in Katie Pershing’s books and art are reminiscent of a bygone era.
The La Sierra University senior art major’s works, including three books, prints, paintings, and balsa wood meadow larks, draw upon stories of her grandmother’s life growing up in Lowell, Nebraska during the 1930s and 40s. The nostalgic repertoire transports viewers to another time when most interactions were face to face, and in the artist’s view, more authentic.
“Perhaps there is something special about the moments shared by those nearing the end of their personal story and those just beginning it,” Pershing says. “Whatever that mysterious element is, I know it is unattainable by means of Facebook and Twitter. We live in a world of depersonalized relationships and airbrushed self-portraits. I suppose I just long for something real.”
Pershing’s portfolio will bring a slice of Americana to La Sierra’s Brandstater Gallery in her senior showcase, “An Ode to the Troublemakers the Brazen and the Bold.” The exhibit will run Wed., April 3 through Fri., April 12. Gallery hours are Mon. – Thurs., 10 a.m. – 4 p.m., Sun., 2 – 5 p.m. On Fri., April 5 and Fri., April 12 the gallery will be open 10 a.m. – 12 p.m. and will include additional student shows. Admission is free. The gallery is located at the Visual Art Center 112, Building 1.
Pershing’s show will consist of three books, a number of large prints of spreads from the books, two paintings representing two other stories including one with a recorded song, and a flock of balsa wood meadowlarks that appear to fly under telephone wires that connect to wooden poles. Pershing created the meadowlarks, as the birds are common to the fields of Lowell, she said.
The exhibit’s title, also included on the dedication page of each of Pershing’s books, refers to Pershing’s paternal grandmother’s family, the Newbolds, her grandmother’s 11 brothers and sisters and their parents. “… the adjective, troublesome, refers to that marvelously bold, and brazen characteristic that fits each Newbold in their own particular way,” says Pershing in her artist’s statement.
Pershing gathered material for her exhibit by listening to her grandmother, Nettie Pershing’s stories, taking notes and recording what she heard. Pershing acknowledges a flare for embellishment and a love of “interesting adjectives” rendering the family stories “a bit more dramatic than my grandmother originally expressed,” she said.
Pershing’s books include “Big Bad Red,” “Goosed,” and “The Tragic Tale of Toots and Boots.” They were created through print-on-demand sources including Blurb.com. “The first two [books] are about my grandmother’s sister Nori, and her experiences with some large birds. The latter is a quirky little story about my grandmother having a pet rooster as a child,” said Pershing. All three books are hand illustrated. “Big Bad Red” and “The Tragic Tale of Toots and Boots” were done in watercolor and pencil, while “Goosed” was created in pencil.
Many of her books include elements of vintage letterpress that have been scanned and edited and sometimes used to create missing letterforms. The original art has been scanned and assembled digitally to take advantage of print-on-demand techniques.
The two paintings consist of an oil painting on wood of Pershing’s great grandfather Day Newbold on his horse, and the second is a preview watercolor illustration for Pershing’s next book, which is of her grandmother and her sister Ellen on the day Ellen moved away from home. A recorded song accompanies the watercolor. It is Pershing’s version of the song Ellen taught Pershing’s grandmother to sing before she left.
Pershing’s love of art is a lifelong passion that received the support of her parents. She began private art lessons at age 11 with instructors who became her mentors and included her work in exhibitions. She is an intern at MAD Street Gallery, a private art instructor and high school art substitute teacher. Pershing has exhibited artwork at Division 9 Gallery in Riverside, Brandstater Gallery, MAD Street Gallery, The Stations of the Cross Exhibition, as well as a number of community art spaces in Southern California. She has been the recipient of La Sierra’s Katchamakoff Scholarship for the past three years and has won first place in fine art, second place in fine art and three honorable mentions collectively in the Brandstater Gallery student shows.
This June Pershing will receive her Bachelor of Fine Arts with a primary emphasis in painting and a secondary emphasis in textiles. She intends to pursue a Master of Fine Arts at Laguna College of Art and Design.
Pershing is considering various career options, including teaching in higher education. “If I were speaking about what I would wish to do for a living, I would say that I’d like to tell stories,” Pershing said. “Whether that means writing and illustrating, painting or perhaps even working in set design at some point, I’m not sure. Perhaps I will try all of them and see what sticks.”
For further information call 951-785-2170. La Sierra University is located at 4500 Riverwalk Parkway, Riverside.