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Art: "Objects of Worship" Now on Display at Thomas More College

“I’m a geek!,” proclaims Andrew Au.

In mid-January he was hanging his new series of intricate ballpoint pen drawings in Thomas More College’s Eva Farris Gallery.

Geek? Each of the 12 works in Objects of Worship is named for an artificial intelligence acronym, code, or program. He’s right. That’s geeky.

Au, on faculty at Miami University-Middletown, teaches foundations of art but he was also finding himself caught up in administrative duties. Before long he was pondering if machines couldn’t do that better than he could.

And having grown up on science fiction, he further thought how we “worship the machines that do our work for us.” Continued thinking suggested that this might lead to a not-good place.

“What are the implications of machines that live beyond us? Thomas More is a religious school – how does this relate to Creation?”

Au acknowledges his invented subjects tend toward the alarming. These ‘objects’ are mysterious, faintly sinister machines, so animated they might leap off the illustration board. The “chilly subject matter,” Au says, demand to be drained of color, starkly black-and-white. Cold. Floating in the artistic space. “I try to make the negative space as interesting as the forms.”

Gallery director Elizabeth Neal says she wanted to exhibit Au “because he really is a wonderful draftsman/artist. In an age where art is being systematically eliminated from our education system, his work really shows what drawing skill and imagination can create.  

“Many of the drawings are ball point pen and it really harkens back to the creativity or doodling we all did on our college ruled lined paper during high school math or science class," Neal said. “Andy's work connects to that place where we have all gone and puts those notions on ballpoint pen drawing steroids!  They are so wonderful to look at and the viewer is just completely enthralled in these bio-industrial images.”

Au says, “Visually, I hope people can get lost in the intricacy.” Some parts can look like things you’ll find under the hood of your car, others are completely alien.

Something will creep into his mind, Au explains, and he starts drawing, and digging into his folders of illustrations he’s scanned into his computer “for years.” He brings them together – “I photoshop a lot” – until he has his model of imagination and reality.

Au leaves it to viewers to ask of his creations, “’Do they have a purpose? Or simply surviving?’ And if things are created for a purpose, is the purpose merely that we can make them? I want people to be perplexed.

“Come back and take a second look. Create your own story.”

Objects of Worship, through Feb. 5. Eva G. Farris Art Gallery, Thomas More CollegeLibrary, Crestview Hills. Gallery hours: 8 a.m.-10 p.m. Monday-Thursday, 8 a.m.-4 p.m. Friday, 10 a.m.-4 p.m. Saturday, 2-8 p.m. Sunday.

Written by Jackie Demaline, RCN Arts

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