Commemorative exhibit of John Maul’s work


John Maul, Wings, wood & encaustic, 2009

“A Generous Life,” a commemorative exhibit of sculpture by former OSU professor of art John Maul, opens April 7 in Fairbanks Gallery on campus. There will be a public opening for the exhibit, 4:30-6 p.m., Thursday, April 10.

“A Generous Life” presents a range of sculpture and celebrates the life work of Maul, who joined OSU Art in 1991. Maul died of cancer in 2012. His work is centered around three themes; Architecture, with its function as environmental sculpture; religious iconography, with its history of symbolic representation, both positive and negative; and vessel forms, with their natural connotations toward earth and protection. He was a person who enjoyed process in his work, and he loved to employ a wide range of media, surface, and texture in his work.

In 2000 Maul was introduced to the medium of encaustic, and was immediately drawn to its potential for dimensionality and its ability to hold a mark. Successive layer upon layer created a series of translucent planes on which he could inscribe symbols, cover them, then later reveal them through a process of scraping down the top surfaces. After working with the encaustic process for several months, Maul began to use it as a surface finish for his cast aluminum pieces.


John Maul, Neo Gothic #10, steel, resin & gold leaf, 1999

The application of paint to sculpture was a departure from Maul’s earlier interests in letting materials be materials. Ultimately, he became more interested in the aluminum for its ability to hold its form, and the spontaneity of the creative process itself. The process allowed him to make a quick, gestural construction out of Styrofoam which could immediately become transformed into aluminum. This spontaneity was important to his work, as he enjoy the occasional accidents and nuances that occur during the casting process.

Maul received a BFA in sculpture from OSU in 1977, and an MFA in sculpture from Syracuse University in 1980. From 1980 to 1985 he taught at Syracuse University and worked as an Artist-in-Residence in School Districts in New York State through the New York Foundation for the Arts. In 1985 he became head of the sculpture program at Ball State University in Muncie, Indiana. In 1991 he accepted a split teaching/administrative appointment at Oregon State University, teaching sculpture, foundation design, and art history, as well as serving as director of Jumpstart—the OSU Precollege Visual Arts Workshop. In 2004 he was promoted to professor, and in 2006 he became chair of the Department of Art at OSU. In 2011-2012 Maul was named as the director for the School of Arts and Communication at OSU.

The gallery is free and open to the public. Fairbanks Gallery is open Monday–Fridays from 8 a.m.-5 p.m. The exhibit concludes on April 30.

~ Doug Russell

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