Andrew DeCaen, the next exhibiting artist in Newman University’s Steckline Gallery, has a lot to say about food — the rituals and customs of preparation, consumption and its social connections. Through art, DeCaen poses questions about food and how we use it in our lives.
DeCaen’s exhibition, “Plenty,” will begin with a Final Friday reception from 5 to 7 p.m. on Sept. 29 and will be on display through Oct. 20. Both the reception and admission to the gallery are free and open to the public.
DeCaen grew up in Southern California and drawing was something he always loved to do. Becoming an artist was a natural progression in the direction his life took.
“College classes were really eye-opening for me,” said DeCaen, “to understand art in a historical context and to be exposed to liturgical art as a young person. I assumed I’d study drawing and painting, but then got into technical experiences of printmaking and how it extended my drawing into a new historical context.”
He also carried a strong sense of symbolism, gained from life experience. “I had a pretty firm grasp of things — being an altar boy, growing up in a church — getting a sense of the symbolism of things.” He uses his artwork to portray his ideas and communicate through imagery and objects, he said.
“Plenty” explores images of kitchen rituals as reflections of our interior and exterior lives, he said. The works use understated yet powerful connections between contemporary and historical images to ask open-ended questions.
His exhibit will include some of the artwork displayed on his website, but will also include five new drawings he has finished within the last several months.
“I titled the show ‘Plenty’ because, for me, that word had all kinds of directions I could take,” said DeCaen. “It asks the questions, ‘What is enough? When do we have that sense of fullness? And what does that mean?’ It also relates to human life on a daily experience even when not related to eating and food.”
One series DeCaen is excited to include in the show is “Opera Di Cucina.” He said, “One piece in that series, in particular, explores an image of Pope Francis cooking in a kitchen, a composite of images of the 16th century combined with some modern elements. You see these old and new elements of that kitchen and him in it. And then cooking, eating and cleaning.”
He said much of his artwork is “about body language and its psychological dynamic. It brings up more questions than presenting a statement.”
DeCaen’s artwork includes drawing, printmaking, sculpture, and most recently animated images. He received a Bachelor of Arts from the University of Dallas in 1997 and a Master of Fine Arts from the University of South Dakota in 2001. His artworks have been shown broadly in the U.S. and internationally.
An “Art for Lunch” presentation by the artist will be held noon to 1 p.m. Tuesday, Oct. 3, in the gallery. A light lunch will be served on a first-come, first-served basis. Guests are also welcome to bring their lunch. This event is also free and reservations are not required.
The Steckline Gallery is located inside the De Mattias Fine Arts Center on the Newman campus, 3100 McCormick. The gallery is open Monday through Friday from 9 a.m. to 4 p.m., or by appointment. For more information, call (316) 942-4291, ext. 2199.