Artist encourages students during visit
Flow and composition. Color and contrast. Concept andapplication.
Each artist must determine his or her own style and be concernedover what is presently en vogue or trendy, William “Bill” Dunlaptold students at the Mississippi School of the Arts during apresentation Thursday.
Dunlap called his own work, often a landscape interposed withvarious apparently unrelated images, a journey in “hypotheticalrealism.”
“These places don’t really exist. It’s a feel – like a roadtrip,” he said.
The images he interposes may appear to be unrelated, but allhave something in common, Dunlap said. Some commonalities are asvague as items that symbolize the sense of acquisition or a morespecific symbolism.
“All the animals in the work that I do are stand-ins forpeople,” he said. “You can take a person in the same situation andit really adds emphasis to the piece.”
While Dunlap employs many animals in his work, he is most knownfor his dogs.
In a piece entitled Jeffersonion (sic) Democracy: A Work inProgress, in which a Jeffersonian-era home is on a hill overlookinga field in the foreground where a pack of dogs are tearing into anunknown object, the dogs could be said to represent politicians, hesaid.
“I think this is a good description of what happened in the lastelection,” he joked, then waved away the students and grinned, “butI’m not here to talk about politics.”
Symbolism in art is powerful and changes over time, Dunlap said,which allows it to remain pertinent through the ages. He pointed toseveral famous works of art and the symbolism found in them. Hisinterpretation of the art may not be the same as originallyintended, he said, but it doesn’t make it any less powerful.
He urged the students to strive to stretch their boundaries andto put their work on display.
“Exhibition is so important,” he said. “There is a kind ofempowerment in making a piece that ends up in a museum or ondisplay. The work you make is not yours, it’s yours in trust. Itbelongs to the world.”
The students will be entering the art world at an opportune timein Mississippi, Dunlap said.
“There is now a little veneer of wealth in Mississippi,” hesaid. “People can now afford to buy your work or commission you forprojects. Mississippi is fast becoming a state to not only be frombut also to be.”
Dunlap said he lobbied to visit the school after meeting thestudents during a mid-October field trip to the Mississippi Museumof Art, where his work is presently on exhibit.
“I came by and saw the school after meeting the students andknew I had to come to talk here,” the former university artprofessor said. “It’s a blessing to have it here and it should besupported.”
Dunlap, a native of Houston, Miss., has exhibited and isincluded in the permanent collections of such museums as TheCorcoran Gallery of Art, The Metropolitan Museum of Art, and TheMississippi Museum of Art.
He maintains studios in Virginia, Florida and Mathison, Miss.,where he was raised.