UW professor captures organic surrealism in "Paintings"
By Leah Reif
photo by Tommy Yang
Freshmen Ja Ia Thao and Stephanie Moua analyze
"The Night Swim" by Tom Uebelherr at the "Paintings"
exhibit in Aylward Gallery on March 8.
Aylward Gallery featured the "Paintings" collection by Sheboygan artist Tom Uebelherr Feb. 11 through March 8.
The exhibit displayed an array of artwork ranging from sculptures of men's faces supported by neckties to paintings of the human ear.
"'Sweet Pea at 50' was my favorite because he looks animalistic in a way. It's like a human in nature and I think that's really interesting," sophomore Maggie Roovers said.
"What I saw was relating humans to nature…he's wearing a suit and in the middle of nowhere."
Many of the artist's pieces in "Paintings" featured silhouettes or apparitions adorned in clothing. He believes this fits the theme of the exhibit.
"It just felt right. A lot of whether you are a poet or a writer, painter or sculptor, you try to get away from the obvious and dig deeper and create situations that imply a deeper meaning," Uebelherr said.
Uebelherr's work did just that for sophomore Brianna Van Groll.
"It definitely got me thinking about things I might not usually think of," Van Groll said.
Uebelherr's favorite pieces from the collection were the painting "Cringe" and the sculpture "Midnight Rider".
"They both made me move to the next level. ‘Cringe' is really loose and expressive with impasto. It feels like cathartic expression," Uebelherr said.
Uebelherr is an associate professor of art at UW-Sheboygan. He has been sculpting since the age of four, but painting was a new experience for him.
"Drawing and painting were not abilities I was born with. I had to learn that step by step. Whether you learn something over time or naturally, you can end up in the same place," Uebelherr said.
Finding the time to make art is difficult at times for Uebelherr.
"I work in my basement and I work on campus. Because of my schedule, there is no big block of time. Everything is done in 15 minutes here and there, sometimes in between meetings. It is a big challenge," Uelbelherr said.
He finds inspiration all around him, including in some of his students.
"I'm inspired by imagery and fashion. For some people, characters in video games. Student's piercings. One of my paintings features a woman in an African headdress with Pikachu," Uebelherr said.
"Students always have their fingers on the pulse of what is going on right now."
Fox students benefit from having access to the gallery.
"I think it's really cool because students walk by it every day and have the opportunity to come and see art," Roovers said.
"To have something on campus to just wander through is really nice, and it gives students exposure to the arts and broadens their imagination."
Uelbelherr hopes the collection's message will give people something to think about.
"Something very intense, but non-specific. The best art provokes thinking within viewing, but non-specific. There can be multiple interpretations of the same piece," Uelbelherr said.
Uebelherr obtained his bachelor's and master's degrees from UW-Milwaukee and began teaching at UW-Sheboygan in 2001. He is also president of the Coalition of Active Sculpture Teachers (CAST).