Art helps us explore the beauty of the world, as well as the parts of life that are more difficult to address. That is one of the lessons art majors at High Point University learn in their four years on campus, and one that Scott Raynor, art department chair, has deep, personal experiences in.
Raynor recently had a piece of work shown at the San Diego Museum of Art’s “Reflections” exhibit. The painting, “Angry Reflection,” is one of a series of paintings Raynor started when he was in graduate school, inspired by the death of his father. It’s a far cry from his usual work, which focuses on deconstructing objects, but offers Raynor’s students an example of how to dive into a difficult topic.
“I use the paintings, as well as other artists’ work, to show how students can explore topics like death and dying,” says Raynor. “When art students get to the upper levels, we encourage them to start exploring ideas and concepts that are interesting to them. Many of the students inevitably go into personal themes. It is in these one-on-one conversations where I am comfortable sharing some of my own personal story and how it translated into works of art. Yet, I also emphasize that good works of art have to hold up whether the viewer knows your personal story or not.”
Raynor’s father was diagnosed with ALS (more commonly known as Lou Gehrig’s disease) when Raynor was just 11 years old. The now associate professor watched for years as his father’s body slowly deteriorated, and the disease eventually ended his father’s life when Raynor was in graduate school. Raynor says painting the series was cathartic, a way of getting some of the pain out of his system.
“I still keep those paintings separate from my other work,” says Raynor. “They’re just so personal, I usually don’t show them at all, but sometimes an opportunity comes up where it seems appropriate to show them.”
Raynor actually credits the start of his art career to the difficulties he faced growing up.
“Someone always had to be at the house with my dad,” Raynor explains. “My mom worked, so I was often the one who had to stay at the house. We had a hospital bed in the living room, where dad stayed, and I set up an art table in the room so I had something to do while I sat with him. My mom was an interior designer and would bring home books from the Renaissance, and I would copy the drawings and paintings from those books.”
Raynor’s piece, “Angry Reflection,” was shown in San Diego the first two weeks of January. He says he’s grateful for the opportunity to share his work.
“These are difficult images to create and they are not easy to look at or understand, but I appreciate the support of the Art Guild of San Diego Museum and their willingness to show this type of work,” says Raynor.