Artist turns trash to masterpieces in Hudgens exhibit

Photo by Brian Giandelone

Photo by Brian Giandelone

In the piece he has titled "Stewart's Sticks," artist Tom Nakashima has captured a simple, rural Virginia setting, a mass of dead tree branches his focus.

Perhaps at first a seemingly straightforward and uncomplicated subject matter, the piece is given depth through the means in which Nakashima created it. Using a black and white photograph of the woodpile to compare, the artist mapped out a grid on a large canvas and, using strips of newspaper he tore by hand, recreated the play of light and dark in the original image using light, medium and dyed dark gray pieces.

"It certainly went through my mind that a pile of sticks is just going to be rotted away and that they take pine forests and they cut them down and they recycle them into newspaper so there is that cycle concept," Nakashima said. "It's something I certainly thought about."

"Stewart's Sticks" is one of multiple large-scale collages on display at The Hudgens Center for the Arts in an exhibit of Nakashima's work. One piece, "Brothers Karamazov," (the title is taken from the last novel written by Russian author Fyodor Dostoyevsky) was created in the same manner as "Stewart's Sticks" using pages torn from National Geographic magazines.

"This is the second exhibition of Tom's work that I have curated and it's been exciting to see the direction his work has taken over the years," said Angela Nichols, director of education and public programming at The Hudgens. "I am thrilled to be able to share his beautiful, intricate and timely artwork with this community."

Nakashima's, a native of Seattle, Wash., is the William S. Morris Eminent Scholar in Art at Augusta State University. Also on display in conjunction with his work are paintings, drawings, ceramic pieces, sculpture and photography by faculty at Augusta State, including Philip Morsberger, professor emeritus and former Morris Scholar.

"It is very exciting to have an exhibit showing such varied artistic approaches, techniques and media," Nichols said. "The high caliber of artwork by the Augusta State faculty members is a treat to experience in one exhibit. It is also a singular honor to have works by Tom Nakashima and Philip Morsberger, both Morris Scholars, under one roof."