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New EMU Gallery to Display Professor’s Icon Paintings

Dr. Jerry Holsopple

Jerry L. Holsopple doesn’t consider himself an icon, but this past year, he had a close “brush” with this unique art form.

Dr. Holsopple, professor of visual and communication arts at EMU, spent the 2009-10 academic year as a Fulbright scholar in Lithuania. He taught photography, film and culture and religious art classes at LCC International University and studied icon painting under the tutelage of a Russian Orthodox priest.

An exhibit of icons that Holsopple painted in the traditional Russian Orthodox style – and that he considers “a worship experience” – will go on display Saturday, Dec. 4, in a new art gallery at EMU. Holsopple will also display some multi-media interpretive pieces.

Holsopple noted that Father Vlaldimir was trained as an artist and “converted to the faith after he painted his third icon. With a smile, he would occasionally suggest that the same might happen to me.”

The EMU professor worked in an early, although still practiced in certain parts of Russia, “naive” style. He had to learn to write Russian letters and to begin to read the icons text in addition to the color and form of each.

“I hope to move on to learning other styles and experimenting with egg-tempera, encaustics and other methods of gilding,” Holsopple said. “But most of all, I hope to continue the journey of prayer and transformation.”

Holsopple’s works will be the first to be exhibited in the new Margaret Martin Gehman art gallery on ground floor of the University Commons.

The gallery is part of Phase II of the University Commons project and is named for Martin Martin Gehman, professor emerita of art at EMU.

About Dr. Gehman

Dr. Gehman taught at EMU from 1944 until 1987. She continued to teach a watercolor course for nine years after her retirement.

In 2010 she still served regularly as a volunteer on campus and with other local organizations and had been a long-time strong financial supporter of the university.

She was the first recipient of the eponymous “EMU Philanthropist of the Year” award from the university in 2005, and in 2010 she made headlines on campus when she donated her blue 1967 Volkswagen Beetle, known to many, to the university.

About the exhibit and hours

The exhibit will be open for viewing daily – except for the Christmas holidays – through Feb. 5. Admission to the gallery is free.

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