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Local Artist Draws on Mountains of Work as New Exhibit Opens at TMC

Northern Kentucky artist Christian Schmit returns again to his Paper Mountain for a new exhibit opening Feb. 12 at Thomas More College’s Eva G. Farris Gallery. 
“I have several work/show titles that I deal with continuously," Schmit told The River City News. The Paper Mountain, he said, “is a recurring symbol that describes the usual idea of a mountain -- a remote, inaccessible prominence -- and also the secondary definition, an accumulation or piling. 
This time Schmit climbs his artistic mountain with a dozen intricate, cardboard works dealing with themes of obsession and accumulation. “Mountains of paper -- depictions of different kinds of mountains being created, a different kind of mountain to scale.”
For instance there’s “Magnum Opus,” inspired by the late folk artist Henry Darger, who became famous after his death, when his 15,145-page, single-spaced fantasy manuscript was discovered. 
“Opus,” Schmit said, suggests the work space of someone writing obsessively. 
Schmit is an artist and teacher (and dad of a toddler!) and he lives “in a funny little house in Lakeside Park.” “My working space has influenced my work -- I don't have a big studio, so the work is physically small. Hopefully though, this gives me room to say big things.”
Schmit is a graduate of Art Academy of Cincinnati, where he currently teaches, and the University of Cincinnati. In the last 15 years, he has taught art to students from elementary school beginners through college at almost every institution in the Greater Cincinnati area. 
He says the development of his work has a lot to do with his experiences working with kids over the years, and now with college students. 
When he worked with young kids earlier in his career, in community programs including the Baker Hunt Art & Cultural Center and Covington Arts, Schmit experienced a universal truth. “All kids draw. They live in an imaginative world, with personal mythologies, detailed and intense.” 
He always tries to tap into that spirit. 
“On the surface, I make things out of household materials, as many kids do. So there's that level of accessibility -- I don't hide my love for things like cardboard and paper. 
“Hopefully there's a level of sophistication there too -- formally and conceptually -- that is challenging to people.”
Cardboard is a fragile, difficult medium, he notes, and after much experimentation, he’s found “a particular brand of cereal box” (he prefers not to name it) that works very well.
The most valuable thing visitors – young, old, regular gallery-goer, art newbie -- can bring to his exhibit, Schmit says, is curiosity. 
Be more than a casual observer – consider the work. Talk to him at the opening, Schmit invites. 
Ask questions. Talk to gallery staff if you visit during the exhibit run. Make it a habit.
“I am curious about many things, and when I meet someone who is knowledgeable about those things, I hope that they will want to talk to me about them. I know many artists who make extremely dense, sophisticated, challenging work, but they are the most generous, accessible people.” 
The Paper Mountain, Feb. 12-26. Thomas More College, Eva G, Farris Gallery (located in the college library), 333 Thomas More Parkway, Crestview Hills. Free. Gallery hours: 8 a.m.-10 p.m. Monday-Thursday, 8 a.m.-4 p.m. Friday, 10 a.m.-4 p.m. Saturday and 2-8 p.m. Sunday. Opening reception 4-7 p.m. Feb. 12 preceded by a gallery talk at 3 p.m.
Written by Jackie Demaline, RCN Arts
Photo provided