MISSOULA – The Gallery of Visual Arts at the University of Montana will present an exhibition of assemblage sculpture and relief paintings by alumnus UM Francis Paul Pearson. His exhibition, “What Lay Before – What Lay After,” will be on display Tuesday, Feb. 2, through Thursday, March 3. An opening reception for the exhibition is scheduled from 5 to 7 p.m. Thursday, Feb. 4. The Gallery of Visual Arts is located on the first floor of the Social Science Building and is free and open to the public.
Pearson, who lives in Clinton, creates assemblage sculpture and relief paintings that are inspired by the natural world, landscape and environment. Using a variety of found objects and a wide range of materials, his work examines natural processes that are cyclic and reflect the passage of time. He often uses birds and other animal imagery to express something about nature that is fleeting or unseen. In some cases, the animal imagery and materials have a humorous, sarcastic point of view that expresses the emotional and tenuous human relationship with nature and with one another.
Pearson constructs painting and sculpture with similar additive processes. The relief paintings are made from numerous pieces of wood wrapped in canvas that are attached to the panel. The result is similar to a stained glass window and can evoke an iconic interpretation. In the sculpture, found objects and materials are chosen for their textural qualities, overall shape and ability to communicate content. Some of the tools used to create the work, such as putty knives, paintbrushes and pencils are embedded in the richly textured surfaces of both painting and sculpture.
Pearson earned his Master of Fine Arts from UM in 1991. He and his family have made the Missoula area their home ever since. Over the years, Pearson has been an art teacher for Very Special Arts Montana, the state organization on Arts and Disabilities; participated in the Artist in the Schools Program; and taught art to at-risk youth and diverse population of adults with special needs at Opportunity Resources.