Lying Heavy: sharing the beauty of rust

Posted on 24 October 2017 by admin

Sheldon gallery features professor Joe Chesla’s unique cross between scupture and printmaking


By: Stephen Buechter
Staff Writer


Meramec professor Joe Chesla’s work is being shown in an exhibition at the Sheldon art galleries until Nov. 25.  The exhibition, called ‘Lying Heavy’, features a number of Chesla’s rust and paper works.2

The pieces on display are made of rusted metal on prints, with some graphite added later. According to Chesla, the process is done by placing rusting metal onto archival paper in a mild acidic bath, leaving behind imprints.  Graphite, charcoal and other materials are then added to the imprints.

“It’s a conversation between what [the material] wants to do and what I want to do and how we can work together,” said Chesla.

Chesla said that the job of an artist is to take something beautiful, interesting or intriguing and present it in a way that makes it more intriguing for the viewer.” Chesla said his current work is an example of this.

“A lot of people view rust as a very negative thing,” said Chesla. “It’s not a negative thing.”

Student Maria Sanchez said that Chesla’s approach influenced her own art, and much of the class.  She said he is “very open to mixing art” and that the gallery demonstrated this concept.

“It was a good way of representing sculpture and printmaking in one show,” said Sanchez. “Because of his experience in sculpture and materials and being able to use that in printmaking is what I think made [the show] really interesting.”

Sanchez said that she believed being on the Meramec campus played a role in Chesla’s work because the studios at Meramec are very high quality.

“I tell everyone that I know that these are the best studios in the area,” said Sanchez. “Because you go to, say, Webster and you pay so much more, and I mean, their studios don’t even compare.”

Sanchez also cited the abundance of “really talented” artists on Meramec’s campus as potential influences.

“[Sharing things students find beautiful or interesting] happens every day in the [Meramec] studio.  So the kids will always come upon something that’s really intriguing or they just fall in love with it, and my job is to get them out of the love affair and to learn how to use that material,” said Chesla.

For those wishing to expand their creative output, according to Chesla, “It’s all about work.”


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