Southeast graduate returns to act as juror for annual Juried Student Exhibition

Friday, March 7, 2014
This photo shows part of the “In Other Fields” exhibit by Kyle Triplett. His work is on display through March 25 at the River Campus Art Gallery. (Submitted)

After coming to Southeast Missouri State University to play football, Kyle Triplett never thought he would be holding a bachelor of fine arts degree in ceramics when he graduated in 2008.

Triplett recalled the interest he had for a high-school ceramics class and enrolled for one at the collegiate level when an injury ended his football career.

Triplett credits professor Benjie Heu for being a part of his rediscovery of a passion for art. Triplett was a history major initially, but the introductory ceramics course was all it took to alter his goals and aspirations.

"To be honest, Southeast has always been a second home to me," Triplett said. "I really and truly kind of found myself there. Benjie has remained a close friend and mentor. ... I felt like I could be an adult there and, sort of the way of an artist, really found myself there."

Triplett will return to Southeast to show of his most recent work -- pieces from an in-progress series titled "In Other Fields." Triplett combines ceramics and digital imaging to communicate his message to viewers. The photographs, though shot digitally, are printed on translucent film for an "old-style camera" appearance.

Kyle Triplett, pictured, has work on display at the River Campus Art Gallery through March 25. (Submitted)

Triplett also is an acting juror for the annual Juried Student Exhibition, which will be displayed in the Crisp Museum at Southeast's River Campus. According to gallery coordinator Kristin Powers Nowlin, the events work in conjunction with each other.

The juror usually displays a solo exhibition at the River Campus Art Gallery a month before the student show. The selection of the juror is rotated within different parts of the art department, which gave ceramics the vote this year. Heu nominated Triplett as acting juror for the 2014 session.

Powers Nowlin said this is the first time since she started at Southeast six years ago that the juror has been an alumnus of Southeast.

"We usually do a lot of student works in the River Campus Art Gallery every year, a lot of student exhibitions," Powers Nowlin said. "So this is an opportunity for the students to see what a professional artist from outside our institution is doing."

Triplett went to Louisiana State University for post-baccalaureate studies in ceramics and then to Ohio University, where he earned his master of fine arts degree. He works as an adjunct professor of ceramics at Kansas State University and is the ceramics area resident artist.

A native of Spearfish, S.D., Triplett's artistic expression often addresses landscape and its effect on a person's life.

The relocating Triplett has done throughout his life -- and gaining experience in a variety of places -- has helped shape these ideas.

"A beautiful image, a beautiful pasture can have so many different connotations," Triplett said. "So it's kind of a tool I like to use, and it's also a very easy entryway in some respects. We're used to looking at landscape painting and landscape photography, and I kind of combine that with some kind of cinematic style set up or shots, almost like I'm creating a single image of a longer running story and trying to apply narrative."

Triplett's message reveals more about individual position than geographic location. He remembers traveling to Philadelphia and the feeling of being in an entirely different world compared to his hometown. He wants his art to speak to this separation of having a sense of isolation and the bustling cultural and social diversity that a metropolis offers. Triplett said neither style of living is more or less right, but his art aims to observe a distinction.

"Back home, you're a person, you're a certain kind of person in college, you're a certain kind of person when you're at school, you're a certain person at your job," Triplett said. "You're sort of those -- your associate person. You're the very facets of your personality and how place relates to that."

Triplett said though the large-scale images were kept simple, he hopes viewers will recognize the beauty and "quiet poetry" within a setting or figure. He also hopes when viewers study his art, it makes them think.

"I'm interested in presenting something that maybe asks more questions than answers," Triplett said.

"He had a real, kind of interesting dialogue between those physical materials of the ceramics and this digital projection that he was showing those against," Powers Nowlin said. "I think all ... should come down because I think it will really expand their understanding of what art is and how it can function in their daily lives."

Triplett's work will be on display today through March 25 at the River Campus Art Gallery. An opening reception will be from 5 to 7 p.m. today. Triplett will present a juror's lecture from noon to 1 p.m. March 26 in advance of the student exhibition. The River Campus Art Gallery is on the first floor of the historic Seminary Building in Room 106.

River Campus Art Gallery hours are from 1 to 5 p.m. Monday through Friday and from 1 to 7 p.m. on First Fridays. All gallery exhibitions, events and talks are free to the public. More information is available by contacting the gallery's coordinator, Powers Nowlin, at kpnowlin@semo.edu or 651-5901.

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