Knox may have a number of married couples among its faculty, but Associate Professors of Art Tony Gant and Lynette Lombard have a claim to fame outside of the Knox bubble.
Gant and Lombard, both artists of their own right, presented their work together in an exhibit titled “Educating a Generation: An American Renaissance,” which opened at the Fire Barn Gallery in Grand Haven, Mich. on Monday, Jan. 21.
The couple was invited to show their work by Knox alum and former student Ellen Trumbo ’01, whose significant other, Chris Protas, is the director of the Fire Barn Gallery.
“It’s exciting to show work. It’s exciting that an alum says she wants to give back what we gave her,” Lombard said. “I just thought, this is a great opportunity.”
Over the course of the exhibit, which lasted until Wednesday, Jan. 30, both artists were given the chance to create a piece of art on site and out of doors. Lombard, as a landscape painter, was inspired by her surroundings in Michigan.
“I was quite moved by the landscape. It’s right on the lake … it has undulating hills and trees and gorgeous light,” Lombard said. “Actually, the landscape reminds me a little bit of New England — I grew up in New England. … So it spoke to me in that way.”
Gant’s piece, a site-specific project he constructed in front of the Grand Rapids Art Museum, had some unique challenges.
“The original project was going to involve a bit of snow. I like to use elements that I can find right there on site,” Gant said. However, “it looked as though snow was not going to happen. So I had multiple projects I had organized.”
Although it did eventually snow and Gant was able to use one of his preferred mediums, he said, “In some ways, it was going to be a surprise, whatever I did.”
Part of what guides his artistic inclinations is how he identifies himself as an artist.
“Often, people describe me as a sculptor, but I think it’s really that I’m a site artist, and so I want to respond to a site, a place, right then and right there,” Gant said. “The project I made, I don’t want it to be seen as a sculpture. I thought of it as more of an interruption.”
Although the artists’ mediums are rather different, there still seem to be some similarities between their inspirations.
“I think, for me, I like a visual, physical engagement with place, and so I like working directly from being in a place, and kind of painting how that place makes me feel as well as how it looks,” Lombard said. “In a way, I want to discover something as I’m painting about that place.”
These overlaps in Gant and Lombard’s art seem to contribute to the couple’s understanding of each other as artists.
“I feel as though Lynette keeps me honest,” Gant said. “Sometimes, I think, as a maker, we can get lost in our own vision, and she can come along and point to some grandiose notion in my head that’s not actually my work, and make me reconsider, reassess my vision.”
Lombard agreed that such conversations could be beneficial.
“I think we have great dialogue about each other’s work because we know where that person’s coming from,” she said. “I like the fact that we both go to places and we seem to respond to certain places in a positive way.”
The couple seems to enjoy the combination of their creative processes.
“It’s exciting. It’s unpredictable,” Lombard said.