by Bekah Kopp
Artist and Williams Baptist University graduate Stephen Watson is returning to his alma mater to open an exhibit of his work, titled “Nearly Nothing,” on Monday, Oct. 21. Watson will be giving artist talks at 9:00 a.m. and 1:00 p.m. on Monday. The exhibition runs through Nov. 15.
Watson has come to be known for his ephemeral art displays of powdered spices and herbs on gallery floors. He has also taken on two large-scale murals in the last year, one of them in his native Walnut Ridge.
His Walnut Ridge mural, on the side of the historic structure that now houses Uprooted Cafe, displays a recurring theme from several of Watson’s recent works, which is a quadrilateral pattern.
“I’ve spent two years trying to drain one quadrilateral of its patterning power, but I can’t seem to wring it dry,” Watson said. “I’ve drawn and painted it, sculpted and printed it thousands of times but it keeps on giving, keeps on surprising, and keeps on whispering, ‘But wait, there’s more.’”
Watson is very open about the complexity of his quadrilateral, and the ongoing developments that come from it.
“This one shape is my constant in every experiment, my known factor in a world of unknowns. It reminds me that there is a deep and complex order to the world, and that some of the greatest treasures in life are only unearthed through long-suffering devotion,” he said.
The exhibition at WBU will include paintings and sculptures, all based on the same quadrilateral shape. The title of Watson’s exhibit reflects his characteristic, self-effacing humor, and it comes from the name he has given his quadrilateral, “Nearly Nothing.”
“It seems strange to admit that I don’t know what this shape is or quite what it does, but its identity and significance are gradually unfolding to me as I stay in a patient relationship with it,” he said.
Watson is a member of the art faculty at Samford University, where he teaches courses in design foundations. He received his Master of Fine Arts from the University of Alabama in Tuscaloosa in 2013, and he is currently pursuing a Master of Divinity degree from Beeson Divinity School in Birmingham.
He lives in Hoover, Alabama, with his wife, Lily, who is also a WBU alum, and their two children, Eli (6) and Zoe (3).
Watson will give artist talks at 9:00 a.m. and 1:00 p.m. Monday, Oct. 21, in room 100 of WBU’s Maddox Center. Immediately following the talks, he will take those in attendance to the Maddox Center gallery, where he will be available for questions or comments.
“Nearly Nothing” will be on display in the gallery through November 15. The artist talks and exhibition are free and open to the public.
WBU is a private, Christian university in Walnut Ridge.