Middle Earth comes to Kettering

By Dawn Hibbard | Apr 11, 2012

The realm of fantasy comes to life in an exhibit featuring three artists in Kettering University’s Humanities Art Center now through June.

Exhibit posterImages of J.R.R. Tolkien’s Middle Earth, dragons, fairies and castles fill the Kettering University Humanities Art Center as part of the “Tolkien and Fantasy” show mounted to coincide with the Tolkien class that Dr. Laura Miller-Purrenhage is teaching this term.  The show features three artists, Bill Stopin, Natasha Westcoat and Stephen Hickman.  
Art Center curator Mary Ellen Zang said every effort is made to integrate the art shows with current classes.  “When Dr. Wilkinson told me about the Tolkien class I thought it would be a perfect fit because fantasy is so popular now--and very graphic,” said Zang. Dr. Karen Wilkinson, is department chair for Liberal Studies.
Zang worked with Miller-Purrenhage to get input about her focus in the class.  Although the Art Center has featured outside artists in past exhibits, it is the first time Zang is aware of and exhibit that combines outside artists for a singular theme.
Stolpin and Wescoat are Michigan artists, while Kickman is based in New York. Zang found the featured artists through an internet search. “I was looking for artists who worked with fantasy and Tolkien themes.  I focused on local artists, which was possible for fantasy themes, but I didn't find anyone in Michigan who created Tolkien images,” she said.
“I enjoyed putting this show together,” said Zang, “I wish I could have included more of the artists that I found, but I did have to bow to the reality of the available space and budget.”  
Stolpin artAdmitting that she would not be considered a fan by "real" SciFi and Fantasy fans, Zang said she does enjoy both genres and appreciates the quality of the art. “The major reason I chose the genre for the show, as opposed to focusing on a different class's subject, is that I know that it's a very popular theme with students,” she said. “One of my goals is to try to make the Art Center a place that students seek out on their own.  The best way to do that is to have exhibits that speak to their interests.”
The Humanities Art Center, in Kettering’s Academic Building at the corner of University and Chevrolet Avenues, is open from 10 a.m. to 3 p.m. weekdays. Contact the Department of Liberal Studies at 810-762-9699 or 810-762-7827 if you plan to visit the Center to arrange entry. If you are visiting from off-campus, please register your vehicle with the Campus Safety office in the Campus Center before parking.
The Artists:
Stephen Hickman has been illustrating science fiction and fantasy for three decades. His work is inspired by the masters of fantasy and science fiction writing — J.R.R. Tolkien, H.P. Lovecraft, A. Merritt, Edgar Rice Burroughs and Clark Ashton Smith. Hickman is a recipient of the Hugo Award from the World Science Fiction Convention. His illustrations have been used on more than 400 book covers of many contemporary Science Fiction authors.
Bill Stolpin earned a bachelor’s of Mechanical Engineering from the former General Motors Institute(GMI) now Kettering University, and an Associate of Arts degree from the Charles S. Mott Community College in Flint. His work tends to revolve around four main themes: Architecture (both new and old structures); A variety of fantasy images; Natural images and Space related images. He often likes to juxtapose two or more apparently unrelated elements encouraging the viewer to find the relationships.
Wescoat artNatasha Wescoat is a self-described force of nature. A self-taught artist, Natasha comes from a family of artists, including the famous painter, Georgia O’Keefe. She began drawing at an early age when her interest in geeks and crime fighting birthed her obsession for superhero comic books.  Her childhood love for the fantastical world fueled her passion for pop art. Today her style extends beyond her trademarked “Jeweled Trees” to other colorful landscapes, whimsical creatures, and young women in fantasy themes.