Farnham Features

Farnham Features

by Kari Koehler

Most people like to eat cake, but artist Grant Johnson, currently featured on campus, has put his opinion of cake on canvas.

Some of Johnston’s art is currently on display in the Farnham Gallery on the third floor of Mary Berry Hall.

The main pieces of art on display are a series of still life paintings, with cake as the subject throughout. Oil was the medium used for each of these pieces.

There is also a collection of studies that include many flowers, some glasses, salt shakers and bottles.

The chosen subjects are fairly common pieces of everyday life, but the vibrant colors put them in a different light.

Justin Nostrala, assistant professor of art, invited Johnston to Simpson after seeing his work first-hand.

“I was in his apartment and I just thought his work was great,” Nostrala said.

The paintings, at first glance, seem to be merely portraits. But after studying them, it’s apparent how Johnston uses the background to induce a deeper representation of the painting.

Cake is a dessert: gaudy, superficial and easy to consume. Many people like cake, so it’s not something that you have to eat many times to enjoy.

Johnston uses this idea to convey a deeper meaning in his paintings. Johnston is currently in New York and could not be reached for comment, but in his artist’s statement, he says, “Not only is cake a frivolous subject, but these cakes in particular are lopsided and frosted with lavish decoration. Full of character, they evoke feelings of affection, but are concurrently ridiculous.”

The series of studies of flowers and other objects show Johnston’s technical abilities as an artist. His grasp on shape, color and shadow is superb. The simple backgrounds help accentuate the main subjects. These studies also have great leading lines that draw attention to certain parts of the painting, as well as serving as a means of comparison.

Johnston’s attention to detail alone makes the show worthwhile for any person, art fan or not.

There will be a slide show Sept. 26 at 7 p.m. in the Pioneer Conference Room in McNeill Hall.