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Artist Mike Womack’s “Shoved Forward from Behind” gallery featured at CSU-Pueblo

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An exploration of perspective and the history of art, artist Mike Womack’s gallery “Shoved Forward from Behind” wowed observers throughout the month of March.

Presented in the Fine Arts Gallery at Colorado State University-Pueblo, “Shoved Forward from Behind” was quite the sight for curious art-goers as it prominently featured tables bolted into the walls of the gallery.

| Photo by Alec Herrera
A piece of Mike Womack’s art on display at CSU-Pueblo.| Photo by Alec Herrera

Each table included a sort of alteration intended to shift how one views the furniture, with many including a square cut-out, or a canvas added to a part of the table.

The works skewed the definition of each object, making the tables equal part “painting, architecture, and space,” as Womack put it.

Womack, born in Texas, has had a diverse and successful career as an artist, being profiled by established publications such as The New York Times, New Yorker and Sculpture Magazine.

He is currently the assistant professor in the department of art and art history at the University of Colorado Boulder, while still maintaining art studios in Boulder and Brooklyn, New York.

Gallery director and assistant professor of contemporary theory and art history Caroline Peters expressed her own insight and enthusiasm about the gallery saying she liked the “simplicity” of the pieces.

“It almost has a calming atmosphere,” Peters said in regards to the gallery’s artistic aura, later adding that the gallery “doesn’t tell you how to think or feel.”

She also praised the gallery for his examination of the history of painting, claiming that the tables and canvases exhibited the simplification of painting and the focus of the “essentials” in art.

Peters also explained the extensive process of setting up this distinct art gallery, seeing as how it wasn’t as simple as hang a piece of art on the wall.

Peters, her assistant Chris Rivera and Womack had to detach the legs of each table first, bolt them into the walls, then attach the tabletop, all while adding the canvases at various points in the process.

Despite the actual construction of tables, Peters actually said that setting up the lighting for each piece was the most difficult as the shadows were a very precise point of each piece.

On display for the majority of March, the exhibit culminated in a reception on March 31 that featured Womack mingling with guests, giving a speech about the gallery and discussing his view on art in general.

The reception was attended by students, past and present, staff members, and inquisitive art connoisseurs who sought insight on the creative gallery.

Professor of art Richard Hansen praised the uniqueness of Womack’s pieces, as well as their ability to simply pull in the interest of people.

Former CSU-Pueblo student Flo Nethery thought that the gallery was impressive for a variety of reasons as it was unlike anything she had ever seen before.

“There are so many parts of each work to look at and consider,” Nethery said.

Womack spent a good amount of time at the reception walking around and conversing with people, before giving a semi-formal talk in front of the audience at the Fine Arts Gallery.

His speech took a look at a variety of turns, foremost explaining the origins of “Shoved Forward from Behind.”

“I was able to take ideas that I was interested in and explore them further,” Womack said.

He commended the CSU-Pueblo art department and gallery for allowing him to experiment with his art, saying that he may not have tried something so “bold” if it were displayed somewhere else.

Womack summarized the gallery as an effort to be honest and an exploration into his own relationship with art.

It was later that the artist talked about how people take in, appreciate, and study art and how art has a stigma or preconception about it that makes people think a certain way.

“How deep can we intellectualize something before we recognize an emotional component?” Womack presented, explaining that people often feel pressure to feel a certain way about art or “high art” at times.

“I’m not afraid to admit I like some Taylor Swift songs… I know that she’s a (bad) pop artist, but I like it, so what,” Womack detailed, using a personal anecdote of how people shouldn’t feel forced to have a certain opinion about a piece of art.

He ended by saying that the most difficult thing for artists is “getting out of their own way,” as he spoke about recognizing the meaning in every work of art and realizing there doesn’t always have to be a “lofty” meaning.

Womack left the Fine Arts Gallery having educated, entertained, and engrossed the artistically attached crowd with “Shoved Forward from Behind’s” run at the gallery formally ending with a bang.

April’s featured gallery will host senior art students’ works with a reception at the end of the month.