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"Familiar Shapes" and the man behind them

Throughout all of recorded history humankind has felt the desire to create, to leave a fragment of his or her own thinking behind for others to glean from. This desire is often accomplished through art. At Mount Vernon Nazarene University, art is embraced amongst students and faculty alike. MVNU Professor Justin Sorensen has been given the opportunity to share his art with the community in a new exhibition in the Schnormeier Gallery.

Sorensen has spent countless hours preparing for “Familiar Shapes,” a gallery exhibition composed of a selection of six individual art pieces. At first glance these pieces seem to have no relation to one another – this is simply because they aren’t meant to have any relation. Sorensen said, “I’m interested in associations between seemingly disparate fields. I want to keep it open ended.” This idea becomes clear when the themes and ideas behind each piece are uncovered.

“The show is pulling from a lot of different fields. I’m looking at topics as diverse as the history of aviation in Ohio, to the state of religion in China,” said Sorensen. The themes of Sorensen’s work give the viewer the chance to enter the mind of the artist and explore what is important to him. What could appear to the untrained eye as a simple piece of art, is in reality the result of deep thought and contemplation by the artist on topics such as light pollution, the Wright brothers, religion in China and the consequences of our culture.

Creating an exhibition isn’t easy. Sorensen said that the majority of winter break was spent installing pieces and lighting for the show. He worked long days, spending up to eight hours at a time installing a single piece. This exhibition is the result of much time and planning. “I proposed this exhibition last spring. I spent a lot of time after that making work and thinking about how I wanted to compose it in the gallery. All of the work in the show was made in 2019.” Sorensen said, “While I had a lot more work that I could have included, I couldn’t conceptually fit it into the space, so it had to go.”

Justin Sorensen’s “Familiar Shapes” is on display in the Schnormeier Gallery of the Buchwald Center from Jan. 9 to Feb. 14 and can be visited during gallery hours on weekdays from 1:00-5:00 p.m.

Gallery: Professor Justin Sorensen speaks to guests at the Gallery Talk and Reception on Jan. 17 in the Schnormeier Gallery. Photos by Liz Crosby.

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