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Artist wants to touch emotions

The abstract canvases of Fern Christian are on display at Ohio University Southern Proctorville Campus through March. Christian uses a strong color palette in an intense style to create her abstractions. The Tribune/ Benita Heath

PROCTORVILLE — It’s wide swaths of vibrant color with hidden messages that require the observer to dip deep into their imaginations.

That is what Fern Christian would like those who take in her latest show at Ohio University Southern Proctorville Center to do.

“I would like for people to look at the work and see if they can experience any kind of emotion,” Christian said. “It is not something you can look at and say that is nice and walk on by. You have to understand your own feelings. Each should leave the work seeing something different from other people.”

That show, which will run through March at the center, is a collection of Christian’s abstract work taking in oils, acrylics and watercolors.

“We exhibit a lot of traditional art works, conservative art works,” Gary Tillis, gallery director, said. “We are trying to disperse into those exhibits some abstract art so we can be eclectic. Her abstracts are absolutely beautiful … they are so colorful. They light up our building.”

Christian is a Huntington, W.Va.-based artist who also is one of the founders of the Renaissance Gallery there. She found her calling as a painter after she went back to Marshall University to take some classes.

“I went back to Marshall and took 30 hours in studio paintings,” she said. “I loved it. It gave me the itch. That is the only thing I could think of. It is an addiction. You get into doing something like that and start painting, you go into another realm. It is hard to explain. It is frustrating sometimes, but overall more satisfaction.”

Although she is comfortable in any medium, she likes the versatility of acrylics.

“I like the fact you can use a knife on it or make a wash like a watercolor,” she said. “You can paint on many different surfaces with acrylics.”

And she appreciates that while she enjoys creating non-representational art, it is not the most lucid form for the average viewer.

“Abstractions are not the most popular things in certain areas of the country,” Christian said. “I think when people understand a little more about it, they should expect to experience a kind of emotion. … I like to use my work as an escape from reality.”

Gallery hours are Mondays-Thursdays 8 a.m. to 8 p.m.; Fridays 8 a.m. to 5 p.m. and Saturdays 8 a.m. to 1 p.m. Admission is free.