"Rural Ramblings" tells pastoral stories through photographs

May 7, 2012

"Unpredictable:   Photographer Scott Cavanah eschews digital and instead turns to low-tech cameras with expired film"

Printed with permission Journal Star, "ARTSplus"  Sunday, May 13, 2012


By Steven Johnson '13

Scott Cavanah, an animation and visual effects instructor, began work on his latest art project, in part, as an excuse to travel and take more pictures.

Riding around backcountry roads in central Illinois on his motorcycle, Cavanah brought along his camera and began photographing the flat fields and towering farm buildings that dot the landscape. The pictures reveal the bleak countryside of an Illinois winter, devoid of people and animals, with strong lines that draw the viewer's eyes to the horizon. The collection is called "Rural Ramblings."

"I have not had what they call a 'solo exhibition' for a couple of years. Because of being busy with life, family and school, it's hard to keep working, but one of the things I really try to do is to keep myself working and being creative," Cavanah said. "I started to take my camera, which I do not always do, but for this project I decided I would find the back roads around Peoria and try to make some images."

In January, Elizabeth Pearce of Pearce Gallery asked if Cavanah would be the first artist to present at her gallery. Cavanah agreed and decided to limit his travels to a 10 miles radius of Pearce Gallery between January and February and shoot all of the images within that area.

"The gallery is an exposition space, but it is also an artist education space," Cavanah said. "Classes are being taught on painting and drawing for the Dunlap and Peoria community. It just worked out really well for someone who was looking for a body of work very quickly."

Cavanah said he brings his experiences from projects like "Rural Ramblings" back to the classroom to help students understand the work and planning that go into creating and displaying artwork. He added that waiting around for inspiration is normally something best left to amateurs.

"In my classes I am talking about the things that I am doing personally and also am telling my students what they are going to be doing professionally," he said.

"I have an idea of what I want to create and then I go out and do the work and that is something we preach in the interactive media department. As an artist, some people talk about not being inspired to create something. There is a very famous artist named Chuck Close and his great quote is: 'Inspiration is for amateurs, real artists work.'"

"Rural Ramblings" can be seen from May 11 until August 15 at the Pearce Gallery, 202 N. 2nd St., Dunlap. The gallery is open Tuesday through Friday from 10 a.m. to 5 p.m. and on Saturday from 9 a.m. to 5 p.m.