High Contrast offers dynamic experience in black and white

As I rode the elevator up to suite 321, I was anxious and excited to see what the very posh and modern Art Upstairs Gallery had in store for me on an elusive Thursday afternoon. The elevator door slid open, and I was met by the big open windows overlooking the Cookeville Square with the sunset blazing in, illuminating an otherwise obscure kitchen-sized room. Sent on a mission that I had chosen to accept, I felt like a collector of clues as I scribbled away details in my journal, observing and reporting the elements that made each work of art unique. I slowly inched my way down the long curvy hallway, moving from drawing to drawing while pausing briefly to admire the detail of each image.The name of the exhibit is High Contrast, a small collection of still life drawings created by using a combination of charcoal and graphite on white paper that address topics such as chiaroscuro, portraiture, proportion, and perspective. This showcase of works was created by current Tech students who were in Kimberly Winkle’s Art 2310 class over the past few years. Some, but not all, of the emerging artists whose works are on display at the gallery are art majors, making the creators and their efforts all the more admirable and interesting. Most of the drawings took 10 to 15 hours to complete.

Portraiture (for those of you who are not well versed in artist vernacular, as is the case with myself) is a representation of a person using objects that are reminiscent of the intended individual. Each portraiture is different in the representative objects that the artist has chosen in order to recreate that person on paper without actually drawing their subject’s face. There are varying degrees of highly contrasted whites, grays, and blacks that bring immense emotion to the drawings. The artists were challenged to make do without the use of color and still somehow make this mystery person come alive in the mind of the viewer.

I challenged myself to figure out who the artist was trying to portray before I looked at the title of the work. Unbelievably, the lack of color brought more life to each drawing than I had imagined it would. I thought harder and looked deeper, as I felt I was looking through a window into the artist’s psyche. I was allowed the ability for a split second to see through their eyes how they felt about the person they chose to represent in their drawing.

I took note of the objects in Scott Collier’s drawing: a folded American flag encased in a triangular wooden and glass box, a titleless leather bound book with ruffled pages, an old stretchy watch lying on its side in front of the flag, a cigarette extinguished too soon, and a pocket knife that was as sharp as the day it was purchased. I felt the secret seep quietly into my mind as I slid my thoughts over each one of these objects one more time: this was a portraiture of his dad, his grandfather or an important and respected male figure in his life. I had won the game I was playing with myself. The title of the drawing was “Frank.”

I realized I was subconsciously looking for my dad in one of these black and white drawings, and he is who I would undoubtedly draw if I possessed the ability. I had captured my elusive Thursday afternoon as I left suite 321, rode back down the elevator and stepped back into my own mind on the Cookeville square, feeling content that I had found my dad hanging on the wall in Scott Collier’s mind.

High Contrast is open the month of April, and most of the artist’s contact information is available at the exhibit.