July 25, 2012 - By Curtis Pulliam--Leader Intern
Oxford artist Eugene Clark (left) along with students Maggie Larson (center) and Tim Schalm pose with murals for the new Human Health Building at Oakland University. Photo by Curtis Pulliam
(click for larger version)
Eugene Clark, a resident of Oxford for seven years and a professor at Oakland University, was recently selected to create three large mural paintings for the new Human Health Building at Oakland University,
They are to be installed Aug. 15, while the Human Health Building is expected to open this fall.
"Originally, they were going to do three separate murals from three different people," Clark said. "They had people from the whole department submit proposals and they happened to like mine. Eventually, they decided they didn't want to split it up and wanted me to do all three. I was very excited and honored when I heard that."
The three selected pieces are from Clark's "Artis Anatomica" series. Artis is short for Natura Artis Magistra, which is Latin for "Nature is the teacher of art." Anatomica is part of Terminologia Anatomica (TA) an international standard on human anatomic terminology.
The paintings combine the influences of nature and anatomy from a contemporary abstract expressionism perspective, with a postmodern twist. You can see a preview of the paintings at Clark's website, eugeneclark.blogspot.com.
"You will see a mixture of human and animal bones in the paintings," Clark said. "You might see a leg or an arm thrown in there as well. I really want to make sure people that look at it are engaged by it."
"My objective is to provide aesthetically engaging work, while still presenting an underlying concept that is relative to the building the work will be displayed in," Clark said.
While Clark is ecstatic that he was selected for the honor, it means more to him than just a couple paintings.
"Personally, I took some time away from painting," said Clark. "Coming back to it has helped me revisit what I loved about it in the first place, so these paintings mean a lot to me."
Clark has been teaching for 23 years, most of them at the College For Creative Studies The college is located in Detroit, right behind the Detroit Institute of Arts near Wayne State University and the Detroit Public Library.
"I love teaching and I learn from the students all the time," Clark said. "I really like to interact with the students and I believe it helps me grow not only as an artist but as a person, too."
He always shares a bit of advice with his students that the late Russell Keeter, an anatomy professor at The College For Creative Students, gave him when he was a student many years ago.
"He always told me to "pay your dues," Clark said. "I tell my students the same because those words have always stayed with me for some reason."
Clark will always remember the impact Keeter had on him not only personally but on his art work.
"He was a very big influence on my artwork and he taught me a lot," Clark said. "I feel like with these pieces, I am paying a tribute to him because I feel like I have paid my dues."
In addition to teaching, Clark has had his work exhibited around the world for the last 25 years.
His work is also displayed in two different books, "Art of the X-Files," and "Eugene Clark Real Art."