At the East End of the Center of Contemporary Arts on the second floor, is a very unassuming studio. Paint and medium has been strewn upon the floor, walls have served as impromptu hanging space and easels provide a viewing platform for contemplative moments necessary for the art and science of creativity. Here in this non-descript space, Russell Ellison has found his muse. Paint, canvas and glue have merged to create images both inspiring and tactile. Colors imbued with deep emotion and movement combine to evoke not just an image, but an experience.
Russell Ellison’s style is deeply rooted in the genre of abstract expressionism, a movement of post-World War II artists whose works were deliberately non-figural, rebellious to conformity and absolutely fitted to the 1960’s. Russell did his undergraduate work in art at Hardin Simmons University where he was a student of Bill Stewart, an abstract expressionist artist. It was under Stewart’s tutelage that Russell’s passion for the abstract was ignited.
After working toward an MFA at Texas Christian University, Russell completed a rich career in educating young artists. His philosophy as a teacher was not to trap young talent in the confines of traditional orthodoxy, but rather give them their wings encouraging them to find their own path. This exhibit, Finding Our Own Direction is a collaboration of artists who were students of Russell Ellison. His influence is evident in the line, flow and technique in works that are at once new and fresh. Many of Russell’s new works that will complement this exhibit are examples of his lifelong obsession of always reaching for that new and fresh idea. “As a painter I have always felt influenced by the Abstract Expressionist. The juicy flow of paint and the exploring of emotions is a part of this movement. Occasionally, I will venture into a different direction with my painting, but when I allow myself to work on intuition, I always find that I am painting as an abstract expressionist.” The senses are assaulted by an explosion of line texture and color when in the presence of Russell’s latest works which are sensually explicit, texturally visceral, and majestic in scheme and execution.
Former students and collaborating artists who will be exhibiting with Russell are Mary K. Huff, Debra O’Neal, Jennifer Parks, Tia Sanders and Mark Watjen. Though subject matter and medium may be diverse, these talented artists all have the Ellison trait in their works that speak of fluidity of thought and style. Their creations are the result of working with raw emotion and letting the medium speak. Russell Ellison is the archetypical icon whose influence runs deeply through the creative souls of these very talented artists.