Students and community members admired the artwork of David Campbell Wilson at the opening reception for his newest exhibit Thursday, Feb. 2. The event was organized by Nick Jacques, Cabrini’s studio art professor.
From Jan. 26 through Feb. 24, the Holy Spirit Library‘s Gorevin Gallery features Wilson’s artwork in an exhibit titled “React, Reflect, Recollect.” The exhibit spotlights a series of paintings that present narrative sequences using metaphors, symbolism, composition and imagery to explore memory, observation and invention.
Wilson, a professor at Cabrini University, Drexel University and the Pennsylvania Academy of the Fine Arts, is an award-winning artist recognized for his use of imagery, color, contrast and symbolic representations to convey the normalcy yet bewilderment of everyday existence.
Some of the highlights of the exhibit include “Our Lady of South Street,” a tribute to Philadelphia; “The Golden Ring,” a metaphor for the reception of artistic creation; and “Altarpiece,” the oldest painting and centerpiece of the event.
“I really enjoy all kinds of work,” Wilson said, of his inspiration. “So, I like to have elements of abstraction, elements of narrative, elements of symbolism and also try to find unexpected ways to approach things so it’s not predictable, so it doesn’t feel like maybe something that is played out or something that you’ve seen before. That’s something that, in the arts, is a top priority.”
His elaborate paintings encourage consideration and extensive examination. Wilson explained that he wants viewers to truly think about the artwork, not only asking themselves why they like the paintings they like but why they dislike those that they do not like.
Art that forces people to think that way is Wilson’s favorite.
Wilson said, “I prefer work that doesn’t necessarily have a simply explanation. It kind of starts you thinking and then let’s you interpret it in your own way. And potentially has multiple explanations. It could be interpreted in a variety of different ways.”
Charlotte Hedleund, a long-time friend of Wilson, expressed that she and her son Charlie attended the event because they admire art and consider it extremely important to support artists.
“David and I went to high school together,” Hedleund said. “We graduated from Conestoga in 1991 and I moved back to the area recently, so, I’m just here to support. Charlie and I are members of the Philadelphia Art Museum, we go to museums pretty often and Charlie likes to draw. I think I’ve always had a love of art.”
Graphic design majors were required to attend the event, but sophomores Lily Weber and Grace Spencer appreciated the opportunity to admire the art and support his creativity.
Weber said, “The art’s interesting. I think [Wilson]’s variety of style and his ability to establish and change the mood of his paintings with light and color is unique. You can tell it’s the same artist, but they’re all very different.”
Spencer agreed, adding she applauds how much Wilson could convey in seemingly basic paintings.
“I like ‘Portrait of Kevin,'” Spencer said, of her favorite piece. “It’s really simple but it’s interesting.”
Wilson encouraged others to visit the exhibit while it is still there, emphasizing the importance of the community supporting art but also challenging their own self-expression and communication through interpreting art.
“You might not totally understand, at first, and maybe that’s the point,” Wilson said. “To raise the question and get them thinking and see where they land with it. That’s part of the experience: letting the work move you or touch you in whatever way that it might.”