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Tech student unveils art exhibition titled ‘Austin’

September 22, 2016
BUTLER

BUTLER

Starla Gaston
Staff Reporter | sjg012@latech.edu

The unveiling of one of the North Central Louisiana Arts Council’s newest art exhibitions gave a Louisiana Tech student the opportunity to share her work and artistic vision with the community.

The collection, painted by Molly Butler, was chosen for the exhibition after her portrait, titled “Austin,” was awarded Best in Show in the 2016 Peach Art Exhibit. The exhibition will be open until Oct. 28.

Butler, a junior studio art major, said the inspiration for the paintings came from her initial impressions of her friends.

“I wanted to paint people that I’m close to and have relationships with,” she said. “But I also wanted it to be a representation of the features that I noticed when I first met them. I took their prominent features and exaggerated them so people who are looking at the artwork can get a little taste of who that person is.”

Butler said she decided to paint only her closest friends and family members for the exhibit to challenge herself to study faces for detail rather than recall them from memory.

“I thought that by painting the people I’m closest to, it would allow me to step back and really study them,” she said. “I really wanted to explore painting without relying on my memory.”

She said she hopes after viewing the colors, eye contact, facial expressions and exaggerated features of the subjects of her paintings, people are able to get a glimpse into their personalities.

“I want people to get a sense of the personality of the person they’re looking at, even if they don’t know who it is,” Butler said. “I want them to be able to look at the paintings and say ‘this looks like a happy person’ or ‘this looks like an inquisitive person.’”

Libby English, a Dixie board member volunteer, said the Ruston community has responded positively to Butler’s paintings.

“We’ve had people come by specifically to see her pieces,” English said. “They’re amazed by how realistic her work is. Personally, I was most impressed by how realistic the eyes in the paintings are. She’s very talented.”

Butler said she was surprised by the positive reception to her portraits.

“It’s just crazy to me because not even a year ago, I didn’t have a clue which direction I wanted to take,” she said. “I didn’t know if I wanted to paint or use charcoal or do photography. I know I still have room to improve, but just to know that people are enjoying my work is really cool.”

Jessica Slaughter, executive director of the North Central Louisiana Arts Council, said student’s works are displayed to help them connect with the community, and exhibitions like Butler’s give Ruston residents the opportunity to interact with the arts.

“We try to get students to connect with us and be involved with the community,” she said. “We’re always looking for new volunteers and interns, and we’ve seen a lot of growth in people’s interests, especially downtown. People who don’t normally come down here will stop by just to see the artwork we display.”

Butler said though she plans to take her work in a different direction in the future, she hopes her paintings will provide stability in a changing world.

“I’m trying to make something that’s permanent,” she said. “People come and go, and I know some of the relationships I have now might be drastically different in the future, but when I put something on a canvas I know it’s going to be there forever. It’s set in stone, and that’s what gives me the motivation to do it.”

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