KWU Art Exhibit: Lichen Symphonies Uncover World Around Us

Written by on October 26, 2023

On Friday evening, September 29th, Kansas Wesleyan hosted a reception for the art exhibit in Sams Hall of Fine Arts’ Gallery for Matthew Cicanese, a wildlife photographer. The photographs shown were for his series, “Symphonies in Scale: Lichen.”

Matthew Cicanese gave a talk at the reception about failure and how he keeps seeing new things, even years after the photos were taken. He described this as part of the process of being a lifelong learner. In my interview with him, Matthew explained that curiosity comes first in the creative process, and creation will follow. He uses the phrase, “Curiosity, Innovation, and Creativity.” He coined this phrase with the first three letters of his last name. 

There are 8 photos of Lichen that Matthew has encountered on his journey around the world. A popular photograph was the “Ghost of Sinharaja” which focuses on a lichen huntsman spider.

Matthew’s favorite is the Labyrinth Explorer, a photo of an ant holding a springtail.

The “Map of Microcosm” is lichens on a cooled lava rockThe “Sinharaja Springtail” is a single springtail on a leaf. The “Barn Beauty” is an old shed in Northern Iceland with lichen growing on it. The “Lichen. Skull. Hands.” is a sheep skull with bright orange lichen on it, another favorite of the crowd.

The “Enchanted Forest” shows green moss with lichen sprouting out of the moss. The “Poudre Mosaic 001” is Colorado’s stones painted in lichen. To summarize these photos, Matthew said, “Lichen are a home within a home.” 

Matthew is an award-winning wildlife photographer. He graduated from Florida Southern College with a degree in Environmental Science. He also minored in Graphic Design and Communications. What brought him to Kansas Wesleyan University was his connection with President Matt Thompson and his want to open doors for communities and share with creativity. He wants to open others’ perspectives on the world around them and his series on Lichen shows that. 

Around 15 to 20 people attended the reception. Senior Olivia Velasquez, who is an art major, said, “I think it’s a very different interpretation” about Matthew’s photography and how the photos differ in being microscopic. Many of the attendees got to speak with the artist directly and ask him questions. The artist and the attendees enjoyed that aspect of the reception. 

The gallery is open from September 25th until October 27th. There is an art style quiz QR code on the walls of the gallery that viewers can take to see which of the photos would best suit them. In the KWU Gallery tab on Matthew’s website, there’s a backstory for each individual photo of the series, “Symphonies in Scale: Lichen.”  

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