Mollie Oblinger, assistant professor in the Ripon College department of art and art history, as well as director of the College’s Caestecker Gallery, has opened the exhibit “In Fringes Among Battered” the University of Wisconsin-Oshkosh’s Allen Priebe Annex Gallery.
Oblinger says she drew inspiration for the works in the new show from her time last summer as artist-in-residence at the Alpena Wildlife Sanctuary on the coast of Lake Huron in Alpena, Mich. While in Alpena, Oblinger says, she “made mostly drawings, took photos and did research. Then I came back to Ripon and created these pieces.” During her residency, she was fascinated to live by a Great Lake for the first time and to learn about everything from antlions (a strange-looking insect) to the types and amazing quantity of fossils along the shore. She also drew inspiration from the patterns and movements of the wood that washes ashore on Lake Huron’s coast.
“A lot of my work has been made of fairly artificial materials,” says Oblinger, “largely as a result of living in New Mexico and California, where even finding green grass on a lawn was something artificial.” This work relies on wood but is consistent with her efforts to “reclaim the improperly disposed of and discarded,” Oblinger says. She says anything made of wood in this show was produced from “found wood” that others had thrown away. The paint was, likewise, “mis-tint paint” from stores looking to get rid of paint that failed to meet customers’ expectations.
Oblinger drew the title “In Fringes Among Battered” from an entry in naturalist John Muir’s “The Mountains of California,” in which he wrote: “Here, too, in this so-called ‘land of desolation’, I met cassiope, growing in fringes among the battered rocks.”
The title “related to the experience I had watching the water coming in along the shore line and change throughout the day… it was based on the actions of the environment on itself,” Oblinger says.
The show runs through Feb. 25 in the gallery in room 2N, second floor, of UW-Oshkosh’s Arts and Communications Building.