For David Kasparek (left), associate professor of graphic design, and Daniel Finch, assistant professor of art, the joint show Transition provides “a deeply personal perspective” of both artists, since the show features influential imagery from their youth.
Artists infuse images from the past with meaning for today
When Daniel Finch, assistant professor of art, interviewed for his job at Messiah College in 2002, he found himself discussing an image not often mentioned in academic art circles: the bicycle. “It’s an image that fuels my work, but I didn’t think it was a subject anyone else would be interested in,” said Finch. After he
finished his interview, Finch was approached by a member of the art faculty—David Kasparek, associate professor of graphic design. “He sidled up to me,” Finch recalls, “and whispered, ‘I used to ride BMX bikes.’ And I thought, ‘Man, if I get this job, we’re going to be friends.’”
Finch, of course, did get the job—and soon found that he and Kasparek shared more than just a childhood interest in extreme bicycling. “The fact that we come from the exact same generation and were inundated with a lot of the same visual stimuli has put our artistic response, while different, on a kind of parallel evolution,” says Finch.
That parallel evolution reached a new level in November when Finch and Kasparek’s joint exhibit, entitled Transition, opened at the Phillips Museum of Art at Franklin and Marshall College in Lancaster, Pa. The show features imagery culled from the artists’ boyhood experiences and interests—from extreme sports, including skateboarding, and the accompanying music scene to pop culture icons like Evel Knievel and King Kong. While much of the artwork is based in appropriation— that is, the artistic act of borrowing an existing image and reintroducing it into a new context that changes the content—Finch and Kasparek’s work takes the process to a new level of creative significance.
“There seems to be a sort of ironic distance that many people use when they appropriate imagery,” observes Kasparek. “They use the imagery as though to say, ‘Look how silly this is.' Andy Warhol is famous for this kind of irony. But that’s not what this work is about. It’s about creatively utilizing this formative imagery from our past and transforming it into something relevant to our present experience.”
While this show signifies a new professional accomplishment for the artists, both Finch and Kasparek bring substantial experience in exhibiting and publishing their work. In January 2006, Finch presented some of his work at the University of Redlands in California, an opportunity that allowed him to meet many new artists and discuss his work in an entirely new creative community. In addition, three of Finch’s paintings from the Transition show will appear in the April 2007 issue of New American Paintings, a highly respected magazine of contemporary art.
Kasparek’s exhibit history has included shows at Messiah College and a forthcoming exhibit of mixed-media pieces at the Harlan Gallery at
Seton Hill University, Greensburg, Pa., in March. His work has appeared in national and international publications such as Print Magazine, Typography 3: Global Vision, and Two-Color Graphics.
But for both artists, the work is less about prestige and more about the dialogue that can be generated by the images and their connections. "We’re both interested in how all this visual culture communicates and informs identity,” says Kasparek. “In many ways the work is a metaphor for the way we take our experiences and piece them together to make us the people we are now.”
—Devin Thomas ’09