Special to the Tribune-Star
TERRE HAUTE —
During December, Halcyon Contemporary Art is featuring works of art by Ben Madeska and Adrienne French.
Madeska’s body of work, titled “A Sense of Place,” will be exhibited in the North Gallery, and French’s series, “Abstractions,” will be featured in the South Gallery and Project Room.
The opening reception is from 7 to 9 p.m. Dec. 2 in conjunction with Terre Haute’s Miracle on 7th Street festivities. The public is invited to meet the artists and view the exhibitions.
Madeska’s exhibition concerns the relationship between food and geography, and how these come together to create a sense of place. The sense of a place is unique to each person, and depends on his/her personal experiences and histories. In a way, these paintings are an autobiography, a diary, of meals eaten and places lived, of people known and time passed.
Food and the land it comes from connect us to our communities and to our past. Madeska says, “I hope this show creates a space for people to recall and reflect on their own experiences.”
Madeska has long been interested in ways people attach meanings and memories to food. Over the past few years as he has been painting food, particularly meat, he has become preoccupied with where it comes from and how that influences the eating choices he makes.
Madeska explains, “This hit home, so to speak, when I found morel mushrooms sprouting in my backyard earlier this year. Foraging these mushrooms that grew spontaneously next to my garage helped forge a deep connection between this particular food and my home.”
Today, when so much of the food people consume comes from factories and farms thousands of miles away, when it seems to come from both nowhere and everywhere, there is a resurgence of interest in locally produced food. People are trying to place the food, and in doing so, Madeska believes people are trying to find a sense of their place in the world.
Born in Milwaukee, Wis., Madeska attended the University of Wisconsin–Madison and received his bachelor’s degrees in art and anthropology with an emphasis in African studies in 2004.
During the summer of 2005, he traveled to San Gemini, Italy, with a program from the University of Wisconsin–Milwaukee. While there, he studied historic preservation methods, learned traditional painting techniques including fresco, worked on an archaeological dig, and explored the cities, art, and cuisine of central Italy.
After returning to the U.S., Madeska enrolled in the School of the Art Institute of Chicago and in 2009 received his master’s degree in visual and critical studies with a thesis titled “Food Poetics: Essays on the Use and Meaning of Food.”
After graduation he moved to Terre Haute, where he worked as a gallery aassistant at the Swope Art Museum, completing a collections management internship there in 2010. He currently works as the program director for the CANDLES Holocaust Museum and Education Center in Terre Haute.
As a freelance writer, Madeska has written for a number of publications and websites including UR Chicago, Bloom, Indianapolis Monthly and Dappered.com. He focuses mainly on topics related to food and drink, but also writes generally on art and culture.
& Project Room
French is an emerging photographer who began looking at and absorbing art at a very young age. She began her photographic education at Revere High School in Akron in 2001. She credits yearbook adviser and art teacher with helping her recognize her talent. On a school trip to Europe, she deepened her appreciation of the glories and fundamental principles of the classics.
Back home, French’s high school photography instructor gave her a strong underpinning in the basics of the darkroom.
Her work with photographer David Thum, a close family friend, helped her refine her skills and work toward her personal vision. She continued her education at Ohio Wesleyan University after being awarded a fine arts scholarship.
While continuing to explore traditional black and white photography, French also began to work with digital.
Under the watchful eye of Justin Kronewetter, she decided that fine art photography was the right direction for her career.
Long nights in the darkroom gave her a greater appreciation of some of the best photographers of the last century. In the dim glow of the safe light, French discovered that minimal manipulation and focus on lighting and exposure helped her create the pure unadulterated photographs she aspired to, and that she now shows.
After moving to Florida, French continued her education at the Ringling College of Art and Design, where she explored different media, and strengthened her foundation in digital photography and design.
French has most recently moved back to Ohio where she is lending her advertising and photographic skills to her father’s business. She says that this has enabled her to travel across the country capturing images along the way while broadening her cultural horizons.
The exhibitions will be on view Dec. 2-23. at Halcyon Gallery. The artists will be present at the opening reception. Halcyon is beside the Swope Art Museum at 25 S. 7th St., in Terre Haute. Gallery hours are noon to 5 p.m. or by appointment Tuesday through Saturday. For more information, call (812) 841-2884 or visit www.artathalcyon.com. All Halcyon events are free.