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No more dangerous art (not what you think)

No more dangerous art (not what you think)

FLC professor named Featured Scholar in part for developing safer art materials

Thursday, October 06, 2016

Associate Professor of Art Tony Holmquist
Associate Professor of Art Tony Holmquist

Fort Lewis College Associate Professor of Art Tony Holmquist is working to make the art world a safer place. The chemicals and other materials artists use can be harsh, even toxic.

“Printmaking is very materials intensive and it has a history of using a lot of toxic materials: grounds, solvents, things of that nature that really aren’t healthy,” explains Professor Holmquist, the 2016-17 Fort Lewis College Featured Scholar.

“To develop a safe environment for my students and fellow printmakers is my goal.”

His efforts have taken him across the globe to New Zealand, where he studied with Mark Graver, a renowned artist and researcher of safer art products. He was also recently invited to be an artist-in-residence at the University of Maine, a research hub for non-toxic printmaking materials. Proudly, his classes now use materials much safer to people and the environment.

Since arriving at Fort Lewis College in 2010, Tony has been active in exhibiting his artwork. He has recently exhibited in Denver, Los Angeles, New York City, and even as far away as Finland and New Zealand.

Much of the inspiration for his work derives from the relationships between printmaking and music, another one of his loves. Something as seemingly simple as the bowing pattern of someone playing the violin fascinates him. That idea of rhythm and movement, or even something like the negative spaces between notes, serves as inspiration for him.

“As I draw and give form to these movements and gestures, sometimes in an intuitive or automatic way,” he says, “I start to develop a visual vocabulary that I reuse and recycle throughout my work.”

This reaching across disciplines for inspiration fits well in a place like Fort Lewis College. In his classes, he sees students from all across campus. Like his own melding of art and music, the variety of mindsets and interests he sees in his students has the potential to create powerful art.

“I really love being here at a liberal arts college because students have some of those same experiences across disciplines.”

Whether he’s analyzing the movements of a violinist’s bow arm or researching safer printmaking materials, Professor Holmquist walks to the beat of his own drum (or fiddle or banjo, both of which he plays in a local string band). He follows his inspirations, often down paths where few think to travel. He has his art to thank for that.

“When I first opened my mind to abstract art, it actually helped me to understand myself better just by opening up to this idea of something foreign and bewildering,” he says. “Through that experience, I was able to look at the world in a different way with a heightened visual sensibility.”

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