Professor, painter, traveler
A devoted painter and professor of art, Gordon Wilson has taught at Whitworth since 1976. Wilson's initial connection to Whitworth came in graduate school when he studied under Whitworth alumnus Ben Frank Moss '59, a renowned landscape painter. Wilson himself is a prolific landscape painter, and has spent the last three summers painting in the small, hilled village of Orvieto, Italy, where he and his wife have forged a connection with the people and delved into the village's history. Some of his work from these trips is now on display at the Faculty Biennial exhibit in the university's Bryan Oliver Gallery. Here the art department chair shares about his travels, art and teaching.
One of your landscape paintings from Italy, St. Giovanni Storm, is displayed in the current faculty exhibit. What was your thought process behind it?
"It's a painting that I did on location last summer in Orvieto. There's this cathedral, San Giovanni, and I painted it times before from views where you can see it much better, but I needed to find a view I hadn't seen before. So my wife and I found this location where you could see it from between these buildings, and I gave it a little more room than it actually had. There actually was a lightning storm during part of the time that I was painting, and as soon as that happened I started painting the clouds in. I saw this darker view: Here was this church crowded between these buildings that weren't churches and there was a storm going on, and to me metaphorically that spoke about the problems in particular with the church in Europe. When you visit, many of the cathedrals aren't used for worship; rather, tourist attractions. So, this stormy sky and this crowding out of the cathedral to me took on meaning that I hadn't thought of when I started it."