Up to the challenge: Art mentor returns with new medium

Friday, June 1, 2007
Dr. Jean Chapman discussed his new sculpture collections that are available at the Edward Bernard Gallery. (Fred Lynch)
A porcelain sculpture by Dr. Jean Chapman was displayed.

Local artist Dr. Jean Chapman's final exhibition was last year in September ... or, at least, that's what everyone thought.

"I thought it might be, and I really didn't think I would do it again," said Chapman, a man recognized by many as a founding father of Cape Girardeau's current visual arts culture. "But Peggy saw how I was doing recently with the porcelain and thought we should do something with that."

As far as Edward Bernard Gallery owner Peg MacDougall was concerned, Chapman's new material was as good as anything he'd done. And for Chapman, the porcelain presented a new and challenging experience that he couldn't pass up.

"Just working with the porcelain was tough because it hardens fast and it's heavy," said Chapman, a stroke survivor. "I guess you could call it passion for my art. That's a good word for why I don't stop."

But the sculptures aren't Chapman's only pieces currently featured at the Edward Bernard Gallery. His newest exhibition also features paintings of flowers he calls "photographic."

"The flowers aren't abstract," said Dr. Chapman. "They are pictures I made from photographs I have taken at the rose garden and in front of my house."

Chapman is also clear with what he is trying to convey with his new sculptures, saying that each curve on each piece is supposed to bring out the beautiful shadows in the light around them, making the gallery viewer more easily see the feminine conveyances. Through most of his work, Chapman has concentrated on artistic representations of the female form.

"The simplicity of his sculptures is what's so beautiful, but the more you look at them the more they remind you of his drawings," said Paducah, Ky., fiber artist Sherri Roberts. "They move to me because of the swirls and the curves. To me, they are women."

MacDougall said she knew Chapman's new material was good enough for her gallery and encouraged him to do another exhibition.

"When I first saw Dr. Chapman's new work, I thought they were ultra-contemporary and I thought they belonged in an ultra-contemporary gallery," said MacDougall. "Some people get a new woman, Dr. Chapman has a new medium."


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