‘Manifestations’: Finding beauty in the intensity of nature

The Texas Panhandle region has long inspired artists, including a well-known former professor at West Texas A&M University, Georgia O’Keeffe. Now a new assistant professor of art and design at WT, Anna K. Lemnitzer, is showcasing how she has been inspired by this region in her first exhibition at the university, titled “Manifestations.”

Lemnitzer moved to Canyon from the Allegheny region of Pennsylvania and previously lived in Montana, Arizona and Oregon. Coming to this part of Texas was a big contrast in the natural environment, but it has brought great artistic inspiration to her work.

“When I first came here, I definitely felt like I was exposed because I felt like something could come down and swoop out of the sky and get me at any point,” Lemnitzer said. “But then I realized it really felt like the sea. Almost like living in the upside-down of the sea.”

The expansiveness of the land and the sky in this area are enough to make anyone feel small and at the mercy of the natural elements. In fact, the showcase work in Lemnitzer’s exhibition, a sculpture made from tumbleweed and twine, was inspired by a brown recluse infestation in her house when she first moved to the area.

“They’re really beautiful spiders; terribly scary with their ability of what they can do,” Lemnitzer said. “So the webbing is my homage to the spiders, and then also incorporating the tumbleweed as a symbol of the wind here.”

Tumbleweeds and spiders have more in common than you might think.

“Brown recluse spiders shed their skin, and they get bigger and they last; they don’t die over the wintertime, they just go somewhere else,” Lemnitzer said. “So they’re similar to the tumbleweed where they also shed; it’s like shedding their DNA.”

Jon Revett, the Doris Alexander Distinguished Professor of Fine Arts and art program director, has lived in the Texas Panhandle region for most of his life. Although he is very familiar with the natural environment of the region, he still recognizes its unique ability to provide inspiration.

“There’s things you wouldn’t think are inspirational, like the cattle out in a field or a car interstate,” Revett said. “I think, because there’s so much space here, it sort of forces you to focus on things you wouldn’t expect and find the beauty in a lot of things.”

Although Lemnitzer’s exhibition focuses on the natural elements of the Texas Panhandle region, it also explores many universal themes, such as the intensity of the natural environment, as well as evolution and rebirth.

The exhibition will be on view Jan. 27 to Feb. 19 in the Dord Fitz Formal Gallery in Mary Moody Northen Hall. The hours for the gallery are 9 a.m. to 5 p.m. Mondays through Thursdays and by appointment Fridays and Saturdays. For Friday or Saturday gallery appointments, send an email to Jon Revett: [email protected]

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