MOUNT OLIVE — Three UMO professors recently shared their collaborative works at the Arts Council of Wayne County
The idea was birthed in the fall of 2015 when Sarah Merritt, executive director of the Arts Council of Wayne County, contacted UMO Artist in Residence Larry Lean and told him she wanted a show on satire.
Lean, professor of art, jumped at the opportunity and convinced his fellow faculty members Lenard Moore, associate professor of English and director of the university’s literary festival, and Franklin Gross, assistant professor of music, to join him in the creative initiative. The result was “The Satire Project,” which is sponsored by the North Carolina Arts Council, the Arts Council of Wayne County, and the University of Mount Olive.
Lean created 12 acrylic paintings. Moore wrote a poem about each of the paintings. And Gross put music to each poem based on the painting.
“It started out in a really infant-like style and has blossomed like nothing I could ever imagine,” Lean said. “Working with these two accomplished artists gave me a chance for my paintings to have a new life that they never had. The project took on its own life and it became much greater than three of us. I’m just tickled with it.”
Moore said, “I feel fortunate to have been able to collaborate with Professor Lean and Dr. Gross. Both are extraordinary artists. Professor Lean was able to push my creativity and move me outside of my usual abilities. Dr. Gross propelled me to say different things. I didn’t know I was saying some of them. Music led me to do that. We all wanted to evoke an emotional appeal with the audience. Also to capture not just what we might see but to also say something about humanity.”
Lean’s satirical paintings included titles like “Man Riding in the Rain” and “Overfed Big Red Dog with Underfed Woman in the Light Purple Rain.”
“People don’t ride bikes with square tires in the rain,” Lean said. “And the fact that some people take better care of their pets than they do themselves, really says something about society.”
In response Moore said, “I didn’t know that I would sing some of my poems. The music led me to do that.”
Lean’s paintings and Moore’s poems also encouraged Gross to experiment with music for the project.
“One of my personal goals was to play piano with as many unique things as possible, whether it was using a pompom to create a swishing, or slamming the tambourine on the strings to get a boom sound. I also used percussion mallets, a squeegee, and lots of combs from Walmart,” Gross smiled.
“None of us knew how this would finish,” proclaimed Moore. “We just inspired one another and created a wonderful final product.”
The exhibit will be up through May 13.
The University of Mount Olive is a private institution rooted in the liberal arts tradition with defining Christian values. The University, sponsored by the Convention of Original Free Will Baptists, has locations in Mount Olive, New Bern, Wilmington, Seymour Johnson Air Force Base, Research Triangle Park, Washington, Jacksonville, and in Smithfield at Johnston Community College. For more information, visit www.umo.edu.