Paintings and multi-media artwork featured in upcoming Coe art exhibitions

Extra: Rod Pritchard, Secretary of the College
(319) 399-8605 or

2018-02-02 10:58:48 - General

Paintings by Emma Steinkraus and multi-media artwork by Lex Thompson will be featured in an upcoming art exhibition at Coe College. Steinkraus' art combines the detailed richness of Northern Renaissance painting with the bright colors of pop art in an exhibition entitled "Happy Animal." In Lex Thompson's "Re|collect" multi-media exhibition, he generates a record of Martha Maxwell's achievements with photography, taxidermy and film. Maxwell was a Colorado naturalist who shot and stuffed a menagerie of animals for "Women's Work," a diorama installation at the 1876 Philadelphia Centennial Exposition.

An opening reception will be held in the Sinclair lobby on Friday, Feb. 16, from 5 - 7 p.m., with gallery talks by both artists at 6 p.m. The exhibitions will be on display in the Marvin Cone and Eaton-Buchan Galleries of Sinclair Auditorium from Saturday, Feb. 17 through Friday, March 16, with regular gallery hours from 4 - 6 p.m. daily. The reception and exhibitions are free and open to the public.

More detailed information about the exhibitions is as follows:

"Happy Animal" by Emma Steinkraus

"Jumping Poodle" from the "Happy Animal" exhibition by Emma Steinkraus
"Jumping Poodle" from the "Happy Animal" exhibition by Emma Steinkraus

In "Happy Animal," Steinkraus will be showing hyper-detailed, whimsical paintings that celebrate the diversity of our biosphere while decrying its ongoing destruction. Inspired by Hieronymus Bosch's iconic "Garden of Earthly Delights," these exuberant paintings combine the humor and detail-rich symbolism of Netherlandish Renaissance painting with the flatness and bright colors found in pop art.

"Despite their art-historical jumping-off point, these paintings are also deeply engaged in thinking about the internet and the influence memes and programs like 'Planet Earth' have on our conception of the natural world," noted Steinkraus in her artist's statement. "The rainbow-colored Lisa Frank illustrations of animals popular in the 1990s are also an important, surprising influence on these paintings, which flirt with nostalgia for 90s era optimism and kitsch."

Emma Steinkraus is an artist, curator and the visual arts editor of Company Journal. She is the recipient of numerous awards including an Iowa Arts Fellowship, a Hubbard Hutchinson Fellowship, and residencies at Pyramid Atlantic, the Pajama Factory, and the Henry Luce III Center for the Arts and Religion. She is also a proud former Steamboat Scholar at the Isabella Stewart Gardner Museum in Boston. Steinkraus will serve as Coe College’s Spring 2018 Kocher Visiting Artist, which is generously funded by the Robert and Joan Kocher Visual Arts Endowment.

After graduating with an MFA in painting and drawing from the University of Iowa, Steinkraus joined Coe College as the gallery director for the 2016-17 academic year. She is teaching painting at Williams College this winter, where she earned a bachelor's degree in studio arts. Her work can be found at

"Re|collect" by Lex Thompson

"Women's Work (2016)" from the "Re|collect" exhibition by Lex Thompson
"Women's Work (2016)" from the "Re|collect" exhibition by Lex Thompson

In "Re|collect," Thompson explores narratives of 19th-century historical figures that worked in the intertwined areas of science, art, philosophy and entertainment. His work accesses those past narratives to tell stories (or bits of stories), and reimagine how these histories influence the way we think about the natural world, and the practice of science in relationship to other disciplines. Thompson folds the time of past narratives, utilizing aesthetic tropes and veneers, such as intricate wood display cabinets and period appropriate designs, into the present time by using contemporary materials and cultural signifiers, such as medium-density fiberboard and green screens.

Colorado naturalist Martha Maxwell shot and stuffed a menagerie of animals for an installation titled "Women's Work" at the 1876 Philadelphia Centennial Exposition. Maxwell was one of the first people to install animals in habitat dioramas, which later became the museum standard. Destitute, she built a cave within her Philadelphia exhibition in which to live for the duration of the fair. Attempts to commercialize her taxidermy through photographic mementos and other ancillary business ventures failed.

"The works in 'Re|collect' bring together my two approaches to generating a record of Maxwell's achievements," noted Thompson in his artist's statement. "In part, the exhibition is composed of a selection of photographic documentation of the few remaining artifacts of Maxwell's natural history collection. The other works in the exhibition call forth Maxwell's work through reconstruction and reenactment of her achievements and aspects of her life. Together these two methodologies join an imagined vision of the past based on historical record, and a contemporary record of the past based on historic artifacts – two complementary and antithetical ways of telling the story of Maxwell's zoological endeavor."

Lex Thompson's work examines aspects of American intellectual and cultural history in relationship to contemporary thought. He serves as professor of art specializing in photography at Bethel University in St. Paul, Minnesota. Thompson is the recipient of a 2010 McKnight Artist Fellowship for Photographers, a 2008, 2011 and 2016 Minnesota State Arts Board Artist Initiative Grant, was selected as a 2009 Flash Forward Emerging Photographer, and was shortlisted for the 2014 Source-Cord Prize.

Thompson's "Frame Drag" project is included in the Midwest Photographer's Project at the Museum of Contemporary Photography in Chicago. His artwork is included in collections at the Getty Research Institute, Museum of Fine Arts Boston, Museum of Fine Arts Houston, Stanford University, the University of California - Los Angeles and Yale University, among others.

After earning a bachelor’s in history New College of Florida and a master's in religion and visual arts at Yale University, Thompson received his MFA in photography at the San Francisco Art Institute.

For more information on the exhibitions, call 319-399-8000.