BOWLING GREEN STATE UNIVERSITY


Luke Ahern with some of his paintings

Luke Ahern with some of his paintings

Senior Luke Ahern’s art to be shown in New York gallery

Underlying painter Luke Ahern’s colorful paintings of bright shapes and forms is an awareness and reflection of the structures of nature. And underneath that is an exploration of the dichotomy between Western science and Eastern philosophy.

Gallery-goers in New York City will get the chance to see Ahern’s work this summer at the Hollis-Taggart Gallery on Madison Avenue. Ahern won honorable mention in the art competition sponsored by the Joyce Dutka Arts Foundation and will be included in the winners’ exhibit. The cash award will enable the senior from Marysville to go to New York for the show in June.

The foundation was created by the late Solomon Dutka to support the arts by identifying talented artists and providing financial assistance. (See http://www.jdutka.com/html/winners.html.) Foundation President Joyce Dutka called to inform Ahern he was a winner.
 
“This is a juried national competition that is not only open to students, and the judges are all prominent artists. We’re very happy on his behalf. His hard work has paid off,” said his faculty mentor, Mille Guldbeck, art.

Ahern’s modest, quiet demeanor belies an intense dedication to his art. “He’s very mature and devoted to improving,” and can be found working in the studio at all hours and during summers, Guldbeck said.

Majoring in two-dimensional studies, he has been winning awards for his artwork since coming to Bowling Green. “We have almost 800 majors, and he has been consistently singled out,” Guldbeck said. He received Faculty Achievement Awards in both his sophomore and junior years, in addition to a photography award as a sophomore and a James W. Strong 2-D Achievement Award. He received a $200 travel-for-research-presentation grant from the Center for Undergraduate Research and Scholarship, and presented his thesis project, “An Intrinsic Relationship,” at the BGSU Research Conference this year.

Ahern is also committed to professional development for himself and his fellow students. As treasurer of the Two-Dimensional Art Association, he has been involved in fundraising and arranging trips to cities such as Chicago, New York and Washington, D.C., to view art and to bring visual artists to BGSU.

Ahern’s earliest artistic influence was perhaps his grandmother, who was also a painter. “Our home was filled with her art,” he recalls. But he came to BGSU as a photography major. “I tested the waters but came back to acrylics” as his preferred medium, he said.

Other influences have been abstract impressionists Mark Rothko and Franz Kline, along with contemporary artists Ingrid Calame and Thomas Nozkowski. Equally important in the development of his style has been his interest in the biological sciences and images from microscopic examination of shapes and forms from the natural spectrum.

More recently, his interest in Eastern philosophy has informed his work. A philosophy minor studying with Dr. Marvin Belzer, he has become especially interested in Chinese and Indian thought and says the work of writer Alan Watts “has been very influential; he’s been pivotal in my development as a painter.”

This has manifested itself in a study of contrasts. “Western science teaches us to manipulate the world to help ourselves, but Eastern philosophy takes the opposite stance—how can we change to be in harmony with the world?” Ahern said.

He plans to continue in this vein of thought next year in graduate school at the University of Wisconsin, but anticipates new directions as well. “It’ll be interesting to see what will stay and what will go,” he said. “I could imagine painting like this for a while if I find new avenues to explore.”

May 4, 2009