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“Field Research” displays art through everyday objects

%22Untitled%2C%22+mixed+media%2C+2019.++Art+for+Roger+Ralston%27s+%22Field+Research%22+exhibit+is+on+display+at+the+EWU+Gallery+of+Art+starting+March+3.+Ralston+created+watercolor+paint+and+drawings+for+the+exhibit+as+well+as+plaques+with+found+objects+adhered+to+them+to+display+the+structure+that+is+revealed+in+the+material.
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“Field Research” displays art through everyday objects

"Untitled," mixed media, 2019. Art for Roger Ralston's "Field Research" exhibit is on display at the EWU Gallery of Art starting March 3. Ralston created watercolor paint and drawings for the exhibit as well as plaques with found objects adhered to them to display the structure that is revealed in the material.

Courtesy of the EWU Art Gallery.

"Untitled," mixed media, 2019. Art for Roger Ralston's "Field Research" exhibit is on display at the EWU Gallery of Art starting March 3. Ralston created watercolor paint and drawings for the exhibit as well as plaques with found objects adhered to them to display the structure that is revealed in the material.

Courtesy of the EWU Art Gallery.

Courtesy of the EWU Art Gallery.

"Untitled," mixed media, 2019. Art for Roger Ralston's "Field Research" exhibit is on display at the EWU Gallery of Art starting March 3. Ralston created watercolor paint and drawings for the exhibit as well as plaques with found objects adhered to them to display the structure that is revealed in the material.

By Sam Jackson, Copy Editor

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While some people just notice snow on a roof, Roger Ralston sees snow umbrellaed off a ledge revealing a crystalline appearance abundant in color by sunlight.

That might be why Ralston describes himself as a “romantic wanderer” who gets captivated in the discovery of beauty from his everyday surroundings.

Ralston implements a method of investigation provoked by curiosity into his artwork, and his collection “Field Research” will be showcased at the EWU Gallery of Art from March 3 to April 25.

In addition to teaching art classes at EWU, Ralston works as a 3D lab technician for the art department and is the Art Building’s health and safety manager. He can typically be found in the art building’s ceramics and wood studios. Ralston is a part of Saranac Art Projects: a Spokane artist cooperative membership gallery that supports and educates artists within the community. There he displayed “Field Research” during November 2017, consisting of watercolor paint and drawings. The collection represents research Ralston’s conducted from “looking at things” and how he’s “been pulling together fragments of (those) lookings,” he said.

This show is different from the Saranac Art Projects gallery because it extends the watercolor and drawing exhibit with an array of art pieces using objects Ralston collected including rocks and tossed pieces from the ceramics lab.

The exhibit will feature shelves displaying objects Ralston collected throughout his research. There will also be plaques with objects adhered to them that have been shredded or naturally damaged.

It’s (about observing) larger forms, larger objects (and) more about life on surfaces. (For instance) how the sun moves through the day, (and) how it changes the color of the different surfaces of the buildings. Or the luminosity of a tree.”

— Roger Ralston

Gathering random materials like pieces of wood or forgotten ceramic sculptures, and breaking them in an uncontrolled manner are considered “research projects” for Ralston, because he can analyze how the texture of the objects change.

“One of the things I like is the structure that is revealed in that material,” Ralston said.

The exhibit will also include drawings of maps displaying fictitious buildings featuring canals. The maps are inspired by Ralston’s dreams of urban spaces that he describes as “kind of dark and dure.”

“They are really cool, and they are really entertaining to do because you can start thinking about where you are or what’s going on in this neighborhood,” Ralston said.

Ralston says “it happens all the time” that he catches himself in the moment observing investigative possibilities for his art work. He has even found himself wandering down stray streets just to look at something.

“It’s like as I wander around, I’m not sure if I’m looking or observing as really a reflective process; it’s (about observing) larger forms, larger objects (and) more about life on surfaces,” Ralston said. “(For instance) how the sun moves through the day, (and) how it changes the color of the different surfaces of the buildings. Or the luminosity of a tree.”

The exhibit will display about 30-40 total pieces of plaques, objects, water color paint and drawings, according to Ralston. He hopes that people viewing the collection will have fun analyzing his work.

“Some pieces I hope they start to look at some of the things around them and they just start to find maybe a bit of beauty there, kind of like I do,” Ralston said.

The EWU Gallery of Art is located in the Art Building. An opening reception of the show will be on March 13 at noon in the gallery. The gallery is open Monday through Friday from 9 a.m. to 5 p.m. and admission to the exhibit is free.•

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“Field Research” displays art through everyday objects