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Paul Sutinen Offers Perspectives on Art

In conjunction with an exhibition at Nine Gallery in October 2013, Paul Sutinen's perspectives on the "processes and objectives of art" were featured in Oregon Arts Watch.

Excerpt from an article by Patrick Collier in Oregon Arts Watch, October 3, 2013.

Late in 2012, Paul Sutinen spent a month at the Robert Rauschenberg Residency in Captiva, Florida. During that time he completed two related series of small paintings, and started a blog. Both the blog and paintings crystallize what Sutinen has done and thought about for quite some time. Which means they are both thought-provokingly serious and dryly funny, all to unmask the processes and objectives of art itself.

For some reason we tend to privilege the verbal, to give weight to words as 'meaningful' and if there is meaning that cannot be put into words then there is a tendency to dismiss it, to act as if it is silly, it can't exist if it can't be verbalized. And when we are new at this art stuff, or not really connected with it at all, we tend to hear an 'explanation' and be satisfied that that is the final answer, that it is in the words attached to the art—not the art itself—that is where the 'answer' lies.

The above is a quote from Paul Sutinen's blog. Whether "the verbal" is privileged and for whatever reason, it is a fitting caveat for the way we understand the art Sutinen made during the residency. Yet, one might also think it a little peculiar that an art professor expresses such sentiments, someone who must surely use language to examine specific pieces of art to help his students go on to explain their own art.

In viewing any art, we give primacy to the image as medium of meaning, and allow an open-endedness to its descriptions that favors an ongoing discovery process. Likewise, if the teaching profession did not attend to a persistent care in the relationship between teacher and student, the student's progress toward a more sophisticated vocabulary would suffer, both in her chosen media and the thinking (meaning acting as a kind of byproduct) that surrounds that production. And, I might add, successfully combining these two objectives in the classroom makes it impossible for someone to level the old adage about "those who can't, teach."

Read the full article on

Paul Sutinen is co-chair of the Department of Art & Interior Design and director of art programs at Marylhurst University. His latest exhibition, Captiva Meditations, is at Nine Gallery through October 2013.

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