"Den" and “Her Undulating Earth” at Art Galleries

"Subterranean" onsite installation of recyclable plastic by Asia Ward. See a video.

Dec. 17, 2015

BLOOMINGTON, Ill.— Works by Illinois natives Asia Ward and Jane Ryder will be on display in January at Illinois Wesleyan University’s Merwin and Wakeley Galleries.

Minnesota-based Ward’s exhibit is entitled “Den” and opens Jan. 6 in the Merwin Gallery. Ward works between the realms of science, art and education, creating public art projects about the environment, water systems and electric power generation. She is artist in residence, education coordinator and program specialist for the Science Museum of Minnesota.

Recently she became co-director of REcharge Labs, continuing her work developing projects, writing curriculum and training teachers in renewable energy education. She’s involved in two large public art projects in Minnesota: one in downtown Saint Paul, and the other, a 27-foot-tall aluminum and steel solar tree sculpture in Franconia Sculpture Park.

Ward said her sculptures are models of imagined places made real. They reference the topography of river valleys, moon craters and underwater environments. She uses light and shadow upon layers of plastic in order to distort perspective and depth, and embed movement in select pieces to give the landscapes subtle qualities of life. Ward graduated from Colorado State University after earning an associate’s degree from Elgin Community College in Illinois.

"Between the Mammoth Tusks," gouache painting by Jane Ryder

Ryder is an Iowa-based painter. Her work will be displayed in the exhibit “Her Undulating Earth” opening Jan. 6 in the Wakeley Gallery, and is inspired by the complexities of the natural world and the complexities of the human brain and soul. The gouache paintings in the exhibit were born from a desire to connect with nature and to connect with feelings she’d prefer to ignore, Ryder said.

“My life is made up of bursts of extreme happiness followed by periods of neutral grey,” said Ryder in an artist’s statement. “I’ve learned to not fear those grey moments because they make me who I am. The grey moments encourage me to seek beauty by creating beauty.”

Ryder received a Bachelor of Fine Arts degree from Bradley University and earned a Master of Fine Arts degree from Northern Illinois University.

Ward will present a lecture about her work at 4 p.m. Jan. 7 in Room 218 of the Ames School of Art. A reception for both artists will follow. The works of both artists will remain on display through Feb. 4. The galleries are located in the Ames School of Art, 6 Ames Plaza West, Bloomington, and are open Monday through Friday 12 to 4 p.m., Saturday and Sunday 1 to 4 p.m., and Tuesday evenings 7 to 9 p.m.