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Elzay Gallery of Art hosts professional work of two Hardin County natives

Judith Steele (right) and Marilyn McPheron (left) present their artworks at the Elzay Gallery (photo/Phoenix Rising).

The Elzay Gallery of Art will be hosting the exhibit titled Home is Where the Art Is by artists Judith Steele and Marilyn (Turner) McPheron.  Steele and McPheron are natives of Hardin County: McPheron is a graduate of Ridgemont High School, while Steele is a graduate of Hardin Northern High School. It was in high school were both artists developed a love for making art. Each of them were guided by family and their high school art teachers to pursue their artistic desires, which eventually led both artists to major in art studies while in college.

McPheron graduated from Penn State University while Steele graduated from the Columbus College of Art and Design with a Bachelor of Fine Arts degree.

After college, both artists became members of the Phoenix Rising Printmaking Cooperative, an artist safe-haven in Columbus, Ohio that gives artists a well-equipped studio for artistic opportunities at the cost of some membership fees. 

With college experience in art and a new environment to work with, the Hardin County native went to work on their desired art forms.
In their project titled Home is Where the Art Is, Steele and McPheron wanted to explore their backgrounds and create art that would give the spectator a sense of home.
Steele’s artistic pieces revolve around relief prints that resemble the Maple tree seeds in her yard.

 I just become fascinated by this shape when I looked at it closely under a microscope,” said Steele.

To start the process of making her art, Steele creates handmade stencils. She then uses those stencils to press ink on the medium. The image starts out with the basic outlines of the major pieces. As the process goes on, Steele will carve away from the stencil to give it more detail and add layers to the image.

Steele uses these methods of stenciling to portray landscapes or falling motion by articulately placing the stencils to portray mountains or a single leave as it falls to the ground.

Aside from her work with stencils, Steele also has an experimental art piece titled Whirlwind. The piece is an interactive experience that uses mechanical levers and marbles to simulate the falling of Maple tree seeds. It is intended that the audience take a marble from the bottom of the piece and drop it into the opening on top. Much like the Maple seeds, gravity will take the marble and pull it downward. The marble interacts with levers that are attached to replicas of Maple seeds and cause them to spin. Steele designed this piece to allow her audience to appreciate the motion of Maple tree seeds just as she does.

​McPheron’s pieces are designed around utilitarian objects (such as keys, manhole covers, and buttons). She wants to draw her audience's attention toward elements we observe daily but do not appreciate.

Rather than create a stencil for her printmaking, McPheron creates an etching plate. She makes this plate using the subject, UV light, and the desired plate material. This produces an image through etching, grabbing every faint detail of the subject. The depth and texture of the plate are determined by the interaction with the subject and the UV light.

If you feel it, you can barely feel the grooves. But it picks up enough ink to make a print,” said McPheron.

An example of McPheron’s etching techniques can be seen with her works on manhole covers. The etching process produces an image based on the texture of the cover. In McPheron’s work, these covers have exquisite designs that are both underappreciated and go almost unnoticed by the public eye. One of the covers McPheron has etched is a cover from Columbus, Ohio. It has a circular star pattern with other imagery that is related to the city.

​McPheron’s work shows us that as we go throughout our day, we miss so many details in the things we constantly see.

Through their works, Steele and McPheron hope to recreate a sense of home as they explore their backgrounds to create works of art. They also wish to explore the idea of observing the things we see every day in detail or in different manner, rather than passing them off as just another object. With that, Judith Steele and Marilyn McPheron present Home is Where the Art Is at the Elzay Gallery of Art from Sept. 17 the Oct. 27.