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Acrylic Art Explores Strength, Fragility at Gallery at Penn College


The Gallery at Penn College closes its 2015-16 academic exhibit year with “Full Circle,” a showcase of intricate acrylic glass art by Margaret Smithers-Crump, a Canadian artist based in Houston.

“Full Circle” opens on Tuesday, May 24, with a Meet the Artist Reception set for 4:30 to 6:30 p.m., featuring a talk by the artist at 5:30 p.m. The exhibit runs through June 30. The reception and exhibit are open to the public and free of charge.

Margaret Smithers-Crump's “Time Released,” oil paint, oil bar and acrylic on translucent Plexiglas, 106 x 14 x 10 inches
Margaret Smithers-Crump’s “Time Released,” oil paint, oil bar and acrylic on translucent Plexiglas, 106 x 14 x 10 inches

Smithers-Crump’s body of work focuses on vulnerability, growth, powerlessness and transformation within natural cycles of life.

“It addresses the passage of time, the maturation of beauty and the inevitability of disintegration,” Smithers-Crump writes. “This dual relationship of death and renewal has historically been at the epicenter of philosophy, mythology and diverse systems of belief.”

To explore these concepts of strength and frailty, the artist uses translucent Plexiglas as her primary material. The Plexiglas functions as a painting substrate or as a substance that can be manipulated – cut into shapes, bent or melted by heat, chemically bonded, etched or sanded down to receive diverse art media. She frequently works with multiple forms that are staged into arrangements to present a particular condition or moment in time.

“While Plexiglas is relatively strong, its glass-like appearance suggests fragility,” the artist writes. “By extension, it implies the possibility of breakage and acts as a metaphor for existence. It is this tension between the beauty of the material and its apparent vulnerability that I find so fascinating.”

For the past 18 years, Smithers-Crump has been exploring the creative potential of Plexiglas, in both painting and installations. She received a Bachelor of Fine Arts in painting from Miami University, Oxford, Ohio. Among her recent exhibitions is a one-person show at Houston’s Lawndale Art Center.

The Gallery at Penn College is on the third floor of Madigan Library. The gallery’s summer hours are 11 a.m. to 5 p.m. Tuesdays through Fridays, and 1 to 4 p.m. on Sundays. The gallery is closed on Saturdays and Mondays.

In addition to serving as an educational resource for Penn College students and a cultural asset to the college and community, the gallery is dedicated to promoting art appreciation through exhibitions of contemporary art.

For more about Penn College, a national leader in applied technology education and workforce development, email the Admissions Office or call toll-free 800-367-9222.

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