Art Around Campus: Two works by Ray Prohaska
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This video was created by students during the summer of 2011. It appeared on the University's website during the 2011-2012 academic year.Rachel Denniston is a member of the Class of 2012 of Washington and Lee University.The following statement, by Rachel Denniston, accompanied the video on the University's website: Two of my favorite paintings on campus are "Lyric Masks" and "Total Eclipse," by former W&L Artist-in-Residence, Ray Prohaska. Both are located in Wilson Hall. On first seeing the paintings, I was immediately struck by the artist's use of bright, contrasting colors and playful use of line and geometric shapes. These paintings have a happy, whimsical and almost child-like quality that really appeals to me. I was also intrigued by the artist's use of unconventional materials and techniques in "Total Eclipse." Here, Prohaska has painted directly on wood, rather than canvas, and all of his lines are actually carved into the wood, rather than drawn with a pencil or paintbrush. I like that these paintings invite the viewer to find meaning in the ambiguous shapes and lines and to interpret these shapes as recognizable objects and symbols. However, by calling the works "Lyric Masks" and "Total Eclipse," the artist does give the viewer a frame of reference from which to interpret the meaning of these works. Ray Prohaska was a painter, photographer and nationally acclaimed illustrator. He provided illustrations for journals such as the Saturday Evening Post, Good Housekeeping, McCall's, Redbook and Ladies Home Journal. An emigrant from Yugoslavia, he moved to San Francisco with his family at the age of eight. He studied at the California School of Fine Arts, San Francisco, after which he worked as a freelance artist in Chicago and New York. Prohaska served as an artist-in-residence at Washington and Lee University from 1964 to 1969. W&L currently has in its collections 16 examples of his work, the majority of which are paintings, and these can be seen on display throughout campus, including Wilson Hall, Leyburn Library and Tucker Media Center.