KWU Nicole Thibodeau Exhibit, Oil on Canvas
Written by Jameson Shaughnessy on February 5, 2020
Why should students on campus be excited about the Kansas Wesleyan Art exhibit going on right now? Well the top reason to visit the gallery exhibit is because it’s free. For any student or faculty passing through the gallery on the way to class or work, stop and take a few moments to admire the fluid colors of Nicole Thibodeau’s works. Any student or faculty member who chooses to pass through will find something very peculiar in these paintings. Rather unlike the unchanging buildings on campus, as you approach Thibodeau’s work you will quickly realize that the imagery changes. Her paintings are only in focus from a distance. What is clear and picturesque from one end of the gallery is transformed up close.
Thibodeau has a large portfolio having received instruction at Fort Hays State University, the Arts Students League in New York, Lacoste School of the arts in France, and Studio Arts Center International in Florence, Italy. Her art is done completely in oil on canvas, an oddity amongst artists today. All of her paintings are landscape focused, there are no people or objects within the paintings save a few streetlights in “Rose Tinted Fog,” a striking painting of a lonely street at night. The colors of this painting are gloomy yet there is a tinge of optimism that hangs in the fog of the painting. This 14×10 oil on canvas painting is beautifully rendered to capture the beauty of streets at night.
Thibodeau does a remarkable job at conjuring images of nightly beauty, her night scenes are not just limited to “Rose-Tinted fog. Another painting by Thibodeau titled “Hadley Night Lights” portrays a building, possibly a church or industrial building, with a twinkling glow on its steeple. The scene is set at dusk with the sun just finally dipping below the horizon. The trees are barren suggesting a wintertime setting, this cold feeling is also backed up by the cool shades of purple and navy in the sky. “Hadley Night Lights” is a 12×10 oil on canvas painting.
Thibodeau’s talents are not just limited to the nighttime though. Her topic materials cover anything from prairie expanses to a single painting of a house displayed in the gallery. I was most struck by two of her daytime paintings, one bordering both night and day, another of a church in Emmeram Kansas. The first, a 10x 14 painting, is titled Power Play. Power play is a painting of a power facility, the setting is undisclosed and could be at night or during late afternoon. What is striking is if the viewer decides the scene is at night, the painting captures the brightness of an industrial complex. The second painting is titled “Emmeram Church” and is a scenic painting of the old rundown church of Emmeram. This painting captures the inevitability that all buildings will eventually return to the earth while similarly capturing the expansiveness of the prairie in the background.
So why should KWU students be excited about this exhibit? Nicole Thibodeau provides a unique take on Kansas landscapes by painting them in oil. The paintings are only visible when at a distance, if you get to close the picture just turns into a giant glob. Finally, Thibodeau’s works of nightscapes are wonderfully accurate and blur the lines of fantasy and reality.