Geography and art collide in professor’s exhibit


Professor Mark Schatz stands with art work in his exhibit “Steady As She Goes” in the Kent State School of Art’s Downtown Gallery on Tuesday, Feb. 7. Schatz said the exhibit is inspired by scenery from the midwest and its ever changing forms. The exhibit will be on display until Feb. 11. Photo by Jenna Watson.

Rachel Campbell

Various landscapes are currently afloat in the School of Art gallery downtown.

Mark Schatz, assistant professor of art, brought his creations to Kent for the first time with his exhibit “Steady As She Goes.” He took on the challenge of what he describes as a “geography-based show with a nautical theme.”

The gallery consists of several styrofoam sculptures that act as miniature landscape scenes on top of an iceberg-shaped base that are placed around the room. In addition to these, there is also another three-part piece made of cardboard that keeps the geographical theme, but still stands apart with its different material.

“These were actually the earliest pieces in the show,” Schatz said in reference to the cardboard structures. “I moved to New Orleans three weeks before Hurricane Katrina…, so while being displaced and having sort of lost all my traditional studio equipment and materials, I realized all I had was a whole bunch of cardboard that we had dragged our few belongings around in.”

Although pedestals fill the room with many of Schatz’s pieces, he also expanded his artistic talent to the walls of the gallery.

“He did a wall drawing specifically for the show,” gallery attendant Emma Pavlik said. “It’s the first wall drawing that we’ve really had done.”

He used rollers made from cardboard and a screen-printing process to stamp graphite dust on the wall to portray a landscape that wraps around the entire gallery.

“I wanted it to be the space, not to be in the space,” Schatz said. “I had never done anything like that before. I had never stamped cardboard, and I have never even shown drawings. It just sort of became the solution that we had to get to. We had to figure out how to make it happen, so we invented some processes and tools.”

Patrons can also discover various small items such as satellites and airplanes hanging by wire from the ceiling throughout the exhibit. The icebergs themselves were originally supposed to be suspended along with them, but a lack of support did not permit this.

“I realize not every place even has a ceiling that will allow you to suspend things in that way, so it became pedestal pieces,” Schatz said. “I really wanted them to barely touch the pedestal (and) to feel like they were going to drift off of them.”

As the initial idea of doing a “show at sea” began to develop, Schatz felt that using a phrase borrowed from nautical terminology would be most appropriate for the exhibit’s title. The inspiration behind the name came from several places, one of which was his wife.

“I’m a suburban kid who grew up as far away from the ocean as possible,” he said. “She grew up on the coast in Texas and her summer job…was working on tall ships…, so she has this whole sort of nautical part of her life, and ‘steady as she goes’ is a nautical term about just trying to hold the course and march through despite adversity.”

“Steady As She Goes” will be on display until Feb. 11 in the downtown gallery at 141 E. Main St. Wednesday through Friday from 12 – 5 p.m. and Saturday from 10 a.m. – 4 p.m.

Contact Rachel Campbell at [email protected].