Preston Gilchrist’s series ‘Daughters of Eve,’ overlooked Biblical characters

By Lauren McKenzie

Displayed among the books on the second floor of the Townsend Memorial Library are a series of religious portraits by Preston Gilchrist, an art professor and director at the River Oaks Art Center in Alexandria, La.

The showcase, which was created to symbolize over-looked women in the Bible, is entitled “Daughters of Eve.”

The series made its debut Jan. 12. Faculty, staff and students were invited to attend.

Dean of the College of Visual and Performing Arts and longtime friend of Gilchrist’s, Ted Barnes, owns several of the artist’s pieces and went to the opening night of the exhibit.

“I was in Louisiana back in the summer, and I saw the beginnings of the work,” Barnes said, “I really liked the show, so I thought why don’t we don’t we do a show at UMHB?”

The images of “Daughters of Eve” have been compiled from old, black and white Victorian photographs that Gilchrist searched for at several different flea markets as well as online at e-Bay.

“Very soon into collecting these photographs, I knew I wanted to do a personal project with them,” Gilchrist said, “but (I) did not have a clear idea what the pieces would look like. This project was one that took a long time to develop.”

Unlike a normal photograph, the works are created through a process called cyanotyping.

To create a cyanotype, a light sensitive solution is mixed together and painted on paper.

After the solution dries overnight, digitally created negatives are taken and contact printed onto the paper.

The women depicted in Gilchrist’s pieces are unspecified. Art Professor Hershall Seals said the anonymity behind the paintings adds to their originality.

“He doesn’t know the names of the women in the photographs,” Seals said of Gilchrist’s work, “which makes it mysterious because you’re looking at this anonymous person, and they’re representing somebody from the (Old) Testament, like Rachel, for example.”

Gilchrist focuses on portraying women in the Bible who play important roles but are often unnamed, like the mothers, sisters and wives of more familiar characters. He said his work is not finished.

“I will continue to make more pieces in this series,” Gilchrist said. “As a matter of fact, my ultimate goal is to have a piece for every woman mentioned in the Bible. I also fully expect the pieces to look different over time, and while I do not have any specific ideas how they will look, it is the process itself which holds my interest.”

His series will be displayed in the Townsend Memorial Library until Feb. 11.

Author: The Bells Staff

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