Fielder Brings Diverse Background to EWC Art
June 9, 2008
TORRINGTON, WY -
Eastern Wyoming College Art Instructor Daniel Fielder is all about teaching artistic foundations, then taking his students out of their comfort zone. For him, painting the picture is just the beginning. The creative process really begins, "when you move forward from the way you normally go about your business," he said.
"All artists need structure before chaos," he continued, explaining that they first "must learn to paint, then define and explore art from a different perspective. Artists may struggle, at first, if they are challenged to work on something with which they are unfamiliar. However, they need to stretch themselves. That's why they are in school; if they want to keep doing things the same way, they can do that at home, but growth comes from thinking and trying new things."
Daniel Fielder came to Eastern Wyoming College last fall after a journey which began with a collegiate career as a Division I baseball catcher on scholarship at Southwest University team in Georgetown, Texas, where he studied pre-med.
"After 2 ½ years, baseball became more of a job, so I took some time off and traveled in Europe," he said. He returned to the North American continent, moving to Guadalajara, Mexico where, at the age of 22, he opened a business selling cultured marble for counters and other home furnishings.
"We went in at the beginning of NAFTA, after which the peso devaluated, so I began a series of moves," he said.
The moves took him to Las Vegas, NV, Portland, OR, and Big Sur, CA, where he waited tables, served as a concierge and bell hop, then back to Texas after his grandmother became ill.
"She convinced me to return to school and gave me some money for encouragement," he said.
Fielder completed his B.A. in English and a B.F.A. in studio art from Texas A&M University, Corpus Christi. His interest in art continued to grow, and he went on to earn a Masters in Fine Arts at the University of Delaware, in Newark, DE. "I had taken art in high school and had liked it. I had some natural ability, but developed my skills in college," he said.
Fielder remembers the first time he created what he calls a fragmentation - the chaos that came out of the structure of his own art foundation.
"It was in my room one night during graduate school. I went over and cut one of my paintings into strips with my knife. It was the most liberating experience I've ever had," he said. Fielder cuts his pictures into various shapes and sews them back together in similar shapes, varying shapes, or in similar or varying colors. The original work is left in his mind, and that of anyone who has seen his painting before he cuts it, but the finished product leaves the viewer to speculate as to what the original work might have been. Fielder said he is unaware of any other artist who practices this method.
Fielder mixes beeswax with his paintings, and adds it again when completed to give the canvas a hardened, almost glossy finish. "I like the act of painting, but then I need to take it to the next stage. The energy of creating these works compares to quilting," he said, adding "We live our lives in fragments of different experiences. Quilters take squares, such as a family tree, and sew them together to tell their family history, as do Native Americans. Ripping apart my paintings, looking at them in a different form, then sewing them back together, for me, is a healing process."
Scars are a part of life, he added, and a method of healing goes back into the process of sewing and synthesizing his work back to together. Fielder's work has found an audience with breast cancer survivors, who find it especially meaningful and have purchased his work.
After graduation, Fielder traveled to New York to participate in open art studios. While there, he met a gentleman who recruited him to teach in Italy for a summer term. Knowing it was a risk, Fielder boarded the plane to Italy, even though it occurred to him that, "the man may not even be in Italy when I got there."
It turned out the man was, indeed, there, and Fielder was a drawing instructor there for two summers. The town was on the Austrian-Italian border, between Innsbruck and Venice, and had two names. Germans who live there call it Toblach , while the Italians call it Dobiacco. The Italian government supported the town, but most of its citizens were Germans, explained Fielder. It was while working in Italy that Fielder met his wife, Karen, who was a visiting artist and was in his drawing class. The next year, she also taught. "We promoted the program in the United States, recruiting students for the summer," he said.
The Fielders then moved to Tucson, AZ., where he had a studio in his home and found a gallery where he could sell his work. That was followed by a move to Albuquerque, New Mexico, where he was an adjunct instructor at the University of New Mexico and a guest lecturer at the Institute of American Indian Arts in Santa Fe.
Then, it was back to Tucson, where he did studio work in Saguaro National Park. "It was time to find a full time job," he said, "and I found the Eastern Wyoming College opening on the Higher Education Commission website. I drove here for a 30 minute interview, drove back to Tucson, and learned I had been selected for the job. So we rented a U-Haul and drove back here," he said. Fielder still sells his art through the Obsidian Art Gallery in Tucson.
Fielder likes the "poetic nature of the landscape and the slower pace of the environment here. It is hard to live here and not be affected by nature and the elements," he said, and added, "I really like that there are no big stores here, plus the people are very nice, which a lot of people take for granted."
Fielder will be traveling to the Jackson Hole area where he has been invited by the University of Wyoming to be a guest lecturer at the AMK Ranch for a painting program. He will give presentations on his works, help with critiques, and do demonstrations.
This fall, he will lecture at a weekend symposium entitled ReVisioning at the University of Wyoming. His topic will be "Psychology and Creating an Image," and is geared to psychology and art majors.
"I will deal with where images come from - poetics of landscape, images coming from the subconscious, experience, history, what we are sensing in the moment, and how that interplay creates images," he explained.
Closer to home, Fielder will be hosting Open Studio workshops on four Saturdays this summer, (10 a.m. - 12p.m., June 21 and 28, and July 12 and 26) wherein artists may bring their materials in their chosen medium - clay, acrylic or oil paints, or charcoal, for example. They may also work from a model which will be provided. Cost is $20 per class or $35 for two classes. For more information, contact Anne Hilton, Community Education Coordinator, at 532-8323.
Fielder will also co-teach Welding and Joining for Art Educators and Studio Artists with EWC Welding Instructor Leland Vetter. The two day course is set for June 13 and 14 in the Mechanical Arts Welding Shop. The course will be worth one hour credit and qualification to AWS D1.1. Class size is limited. For more information, contact Aaron Wolfe, workforce case coordinator, 307-532-8366.
Story and photos by Angie Babcock