February 16, 2016

Jessica Pope
Communications and Media Relations Coordinator

VSU Presents Watch Your Step: A Fragrant Installation Through March 4

VALDOSTA — Stephen Watson’s Watch Your Step: A Fragrant Installation may best be described as a feast for the senses, a colorful and sweet-smelling visual delight on display in Valdosta State University’s Dedo Maranville Fine Arts Gallery through Friday, March 4. Admission is free of charge and open to the public.

“The artist is very unique in how he works,” said Julie Bowland, director of the Dedo Maranville Fine Arts Gallery and professor of art. “His process is extraordinary as he installs each exhibition specifically to the gallery space.”

Using turmeric, onion powder, dill weed, chili powder, rosemary, salt, curry powder, cinnamon, oregano, black pepper, and more, Watson and a group of VSU faculty, staff, student, and alumni volunteers installed Watch Your Step: A Fragrant Installation on Saturday, Feb. 13. The process took more than 12 hours to complete, not including cleanup and lighting.

Watson’s technique is very similar to Native American sand painting, which involves the pouring of colored sands, powdered pigments from minerals and crystals, or pigments from other natural or synthetic sources like flowers or pollen to create a design on the ground, particularly during religious or healing rituals. Buddhist monks use a similar technique to create mandalas, a tool for guiding individuals along the path to enlightenment and transmitting positive energy to the environment.

Bowland said that each of Watson’s “paintings” is made entirely of spices and lasts only the duration of the exhibit. Native American sand painting and Buddhist mandalas are also temporary and are “swept up” after the divine energies of the deities residing within have delivered their healing blessings.

“The process is meditative and, for him, Christian faith based, yet the final exhibition is for each viewer to interpret personally,” she added. “How could you not be affected by the profoundly temporal nature of such a process that will result in a colorful and sweet-smelling visual delight that ends with the close of the show?”

Watch Your Step: A Fragrant Installation opened Monday, Feb. 15, with a reception and an artist talk. 

“My desire as an artist is to integrate contemporary art into sacred contexts and faith-based art into secular contexts,” shared Watson in his artist statement. “These spice paintings are designed to look like targets, arrows, or pins on a map so that they appoint this gallery as a place where my faith has landed. They are intended to provide a pleasurable, multi-sensory art experience powered by color, pattern, and sweet smells. I hope the delightful sights and aromas of these objects do justice to the beauty and meaningfulness of the beliefs from which they are inspired.”

Watson is an assistant professor in the Department of Fine Arts at Samford University in Birmingham, Ala. He holds a Bachelor of Arts in art from Williams Baptist College in Walnut Ridge, Ark., and a Master of Fine Arts in art from The University of Alabama.

The Dedo Maranville Fine Arts Gallery is located on the first floor of VSU’s Fine Arts Building, at the intersection of Brookwood Drive and Oak Street. It is open from 8:30 a.m. to 5:30 p.m. Monday through Thursday and 9 a.m. to 3 p.m. on Fridays.

Contact Julie Bowland at (229) 333-5835 or jabowlan@valdosta.edu to learn more or to schedule a guided tour of the exhibition.

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Valdosta State University’s 2013-2019 Strategic Plan represents a renewal of energy and commitment to the foundational principles for comprehensive institutions.

Implementation of the plan’s five goals, along with their accompanying objectives and strategies, supports VSU’s institutional mission and the University System of Georgia’s mission for comprehensive universities. 

The story above demonstrates VSU's commitment to meeting the following goals: 

Goal 1: Recruit, retain, and graduate a quality, diverse student population and prepare students for roles as leaders in a global society.

Goal 3: Promote student, employee, alumni, retiree, and community engagement in our mission.

Goal 4: Foster an environment of creativity and scholarship.

Visit http://www.valdosta.edu/administration/planning/strategic-plan.php to learn more.