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Art Exhibit Tells Stories of Survival & Transcendence

"Stay" (2014) is one of the works of Steven Hudson now displayed at the WIU Art Gallery

Artist Steven Hudson said his paintings depict the world after an unspecified cataclysm. He said they don't show a post-apocalyptic wasteland, but rather a twilight time occupied by humans -- though different from our current clutter and pace.

“My work is kind of alternative and it’s kind of earthy. These parts of our culture which we’re very familiar with and operate in have been kind of stripped away. What’s left is a more direct contact with the environment,” Hudson said.

You can see this mysterious world in an exhibit called “Adaptations.” It’s on display at the Western Illinois University Art Gallery through Friday, November 20. The gallery is open Monday through Friday 9:00 a.m. – 4:00 p.m. and Saturday 1:00 p.m. – 4:00 p.m.

Hudson said his works contain an environmental message but he tries to avoid being overbearing. He just wants viewers to appreciate the beauty of the environment.

"Better Angels" (2019). "This painting is very different from my other paintings because it doesn't have a figure. I did a lot of research for it. It took about two years to make the painting," Hudson said. "I wanted to do this kind of epic painting."

You can see samples of Hudson’s work on his website. But he recommends viewing the pieces in-person.

“You can see the texture of the paint and the movement. And some of the paintings are small. That’s an intentional decision, they’re kind of intimate. The big paintings I want to be kind of consuming and grand,” Hudson said. “It’s part of the conceptual design.”

Hudson said he does sketching, views photographs, and does other preliminary work before putting the brush to canvas. For example, he studied anatomical charts of deer for the piece Better Angels.

“A lot of people know what deer look like. I want to do a credible representation,” he said.

Hudson said that as a young child he gravitated toward art as his mode of communicating. He has a B.F.A from Southeastern Massachusetts University and an M.F.A from Southern Illinois University at Carbondale. He currently lives in Champaign (IL).

This story was produced by Tri States Public Radio.  TSPR relies on financial support from our readers and listeners in order to provide coverage of the issues that matter to west central Illinois, southeast Iowa, and northeast Missouri. As someone who values the content created by TSPR's news department please consider making a financial contribution.

Rich is TSPR's News Director.