Art is expression: Visiting professor critiques local artists, inspires creativity

A local artist examines a piece of Aaron Tinder’s work at a gallery located in the Pioneer Room of the Memorial Union on Sept. 24.

Andrew Standley

Forcing two contradicting ideas that don’t belong together inspires artist Aaron Tinder when drawing ideas for new works of art.

Tinder explained this at an art critique in the Memorial Union Wednesday night, where students and other aspiring artists had an opportunity to get feedback on their own pieces.

Tinder teaches in the department of art and design at Grandview University in Des Moines. He obtained a Bachelor of Art in art education from Simpson College and a Master of Fine Arts in painting and drawing from Northern Illinois University.

His array of work takes images and fragments that represent mismatching elements and contradictions in a collage-based piece of art.

For example, Tinder clashes gender stereotypes by incorporating ribbons and toy cars in bright pink and blue pastel colors in his exhibit “Dissonance and Recall” set up in the Pioneer Room in the Memorial Union.

The clash, he said, creates a symbolic environment of childhood through concepts of nostalgia, family and ancestry.

“It’s funny – someone once pointed out to me several years ago that I never worked with pastel type colors at all and then suddenly I started using those colors in my work,” Tinder said. “It was around the time I had my first kid. My daughter was born in 2001, and prior to that I didn’t have any pink or pastel colors at all and I didn’t think about it at the time.”

To Tinder, it’s all about layering, having fun and digging through those layers to find what looks cool that makes creating art so satisfying.

“I don’t really want anyone to look at it and know exactly what it means,” he said. “I want them to kind of be able to relate to maybe what I’m getting at, but not have it be really obvious. I think it kind of does that.”

The entire body of work was created from February to June of this year. While the majority of his pieces are hand drawn, many pieces in the exhibit are also photographs.

Tinder described a recently found interest in taking staged photographs. He attributed his newly discovered interest to the rise of the idea of “everybody is a photographer” because of Instagram and other social media.

After Tinder described his artful journey and shared how he composes his pieces, individual artists were invited to present their art in front of the room and receive feedback.

Some of the other members of the community that displayed their work included a local tattoo artist who drew monsters and Reed Siems, senior in integrated arts, who displayed an abstract self-portrait.

Claire Smith, sophomore in integrated studio arts, found the critique of her photographs to be particularly helpful.

“I’m actually going into photography,” she said. “Hearing his different view on photography was really nice and then having the critique was also awesome.”

Tinder pointed out the importance of having collaborations among artists in such settings, as it can be an eye-opening experience for both the artist and the observer.

“I enjoy the dialogue that happens,” Tinder said. “I enjoy the fact that someone else might see something else differently than I do and being able to talk about that back and forth and maybe see it through their eyes. Critique is a huge part of what we do, as educators and as students too.”

For students seeking a future in the arts and worried about their future in the job market, Tinder offered advice.

“You know, it comes to thinking about how you’re going to practically make a living and support yourself,” Tinder said. “You’re going to have to piece together a living and maybe sell your own work or have your own gallery to pay your bills.”

Tinder says there is a general understanding that going into studio art or fine art is not the easiest way to make a living.

“I don’t think that’s why most people do it though,” Tinder said. “People do it because they want to make their profession the same thing as their life. They want to spend their time doing the things they enjoy.”

Tinder’s artwork will be available for both display and purchase until Sept. 29 in the Pioneer Room, located on the third floor of the Memorial Union.

“It’s valuable to get feedback on your work,” Tinder said. “The truth is I enjoy the process, and hearing what people have to say. It’s really fun.”