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Department of Art & Design features visiting painter, students' work in joint gallery exhibition

Leeper's gallery exhibition is open to the public daily from 1-4:30 p.m. until April 3. (Northern Review photo/Kasy Long)

Leeper's gallery exhibition is open to the public daily from 1-4:30 p.m. until April 3. (Northern Review photo/Kasy Long)

Artist Christopher Leeper asks himself, “Why do I paint?” Many students in Ohio Northern University’s Department of Art & Design often ponder the same idea as Leeper asks. Currently in the department’s Elzay Gallery of Art, Leeper’s beautiful designs are displayed for the Ada public, but also to inspire many students to continue practicing their artist crafts.

“I paint because I have to,” Leeper says. “It is what I do. It seems it has always been that way.”

Leeper is a realist painter working in all mediums, but figurative painting is his strength as an artist.

He comments, “It is who I am and it is what I do.”

Painting is his life. Looking at his artwork, it’s obvious that Leeper has a passion for his craft. Most of his work details nature scenes, with many scenes exploring the beauty of the world around us. His award-winning work has been shown in solo and juried exhibitions throughout the country.

Leeper is currently an adjunct instructor at Youngstown State University. He has illustrated four children’s books and has written and illustrated the book Realism in Watermedia. He is a member of the Oil Painters of America, Ohio Plein Air Society, and is the past president of the Ohio Watercolor Society.

“Growing up in rural western Pennsylvania left an impression on my sense of how I look at the world,” Leeper describes. “It seems as far back as I can remember I have had an excitement and a need to respond when confronted with a sublime landscape. The accumulation of time spent outdoors and an artist mother who primed my sense of awareness has created the foundation of why I paint today.”

And so he paints. He describes art as a gift, and current ONU art & design students are just beginning to recognize the gift they have been provided to incorporate their surroundings into their art pieces. Continuing until March 24, many students in the department have their artwork featured in the lobby of the Elzay Gallery of Art to accompany Leeper’s work [on display until April 3].

The students’ artwork is part of the annual Student Comprehensive Exhibit. To view both gallery exhibits, visit the Elzay Gallery of Art on ONU’s campus. The gallery is free and open to the public daily from 1-4:30 p.m.

ONU is a vibrant community with strong talent. The university offers degrees in theatre, music, English, and art. If someone has a passion for art, there is a department to fulfill those passions. ONU’s Department of Art & Design, currently offering degrees in advertising design, art education, graphic design, studio art and pre-art therapy, challenges students to become creative and productive artists and/or designers in the current complex world.

Graduates from the department have gone on to work for Walt Disney, the Smithsonian Institution, Periscope (Mercury) Studios, Dr. Pepper, American Greetings, Hallmark, Chicago Museum of Contemporary Arts, New England Journal of Medicine, and numerous universities and school districts as art educators.

“Artistic talent needs to be nurtured, because art—whether it’s an expression of joy or beauty, sorrow or pain—touches people on a deep level. It turns the ordinary into the extraordinary," the department comments. 

By providing students with the tools essential to their growth, ONU’s Department of Art & Design grooms each student into becoming the strongest artist upon graduation. The department’s educational program incorporates traditional and contemporary methods in art and design, thus exposing its students to the constantly growing culture of art.

Art is continually changing, and will continue to change in the growing eras. ONU’s Department of Art & Design is prepared to teach students the changes each step of the way. 

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