Monday, February 20, 2012

Local artists share Views from the Petrified Forest at Oshkosh Public Library

Feb. 20, 2012 – Two weeks in the Petrified Forest has left its mark on local photographer Erv Schroeder and Oshkosh artist Jill Thurk. The pair will share a taste of their adventure in this land of scenic wonders on Sat., Feb. 25, at the Oshkosh Public Library.
The program, Views from the Petrified Forest, begins at 1 p.m. in the library’s lower level meeting room. Thurk and Schroeder will share some of the work inspired during their time as artists in residence at Petrified Forest National Park in July of 2011. They also will present a slide show including stunning images and art from their time in the park.

Thurk and Schroeder had driven through the park previously, but the residency afforded the pair the opportunity to take their park experience to another level. “We could just strike out on our own – it was fantastic,” Schroeder said. “There’s so much to see. It’s like three parks in one.”

Thurk and Schroeder were at the park during the rainy season and he described the way the clouds would amass in the afternoons in advance of spectacular thunderstorms. At night, the sky was amazingly clear. “The Milky Way was unbelievable,” Schroeder said.

Schroeder has a BFA in photography from the University of Wisconsin-Oshkosh and an MFA in photography from the Rochester Institute of Technology. While he has not made a career of photography, it obviously is a passion for him. His black and white photos from the residency continue a body of work about stones, which he began in 1995.

“Stones held an attraction for me. They bear witness to the primordial forces of the Earth,” he explains. “In my photographs, I try to capture the feelings experienced while in these timeless places of nature's power.”
Thurk has an MA in art education and teaches art at St. John Neumann Middle School in Oshkosh. She took hundreds of photographs during the residency and worked with several media, including pencil, pastel and watercolors. She was amazed at the beauty and range of colors in the petrified wood, and marveled at the way the shifting clouds altered light and changed the colors of the landscape in a matter of moments.

“In my work I show the beauty and harmony I find in nature, and strive to evoke in others the same feelings that moved me to create the work,” Thurk explains. “My drawings are a visual record of my residency at the park. I want it to show the peace and solitude, as well as the celebration of color and light that this magnificent park offers.”

Thurk lauded park staff as welcoming and helpful. She and Schroeder even had the opportunity to visit a dig where scientists unearthed a newly discovered Metoposaur fossil. “It was so magical to be in the middle of the Painted Desert and see the skull of this creature as the layers of time were being dusted away from its enormous skull,” she says.

Both Schroeder and Thurk say they would participate in another park residency. “You wouldn’t have to ask me twice,” Schroeder says. Thurk adds, “It has been a joy to share this experience with my students at St. John Neumann.”

For links to some of Schroeder’s work and more about Views from the Petrified Forest and other library events, visit More information is also available at 236-5205.



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