ESSAY

What is it? It is him.

Dr. Marguerite Helmers, Department of English University of Wisconsin Oshkosh.

Art pleases us and challenges us to think in new ways. Richard Hearns achieves these two qualities in his new work for the exhibition, Crucible. My twenty students from the University of Wisconsin Oshkosh visited Richard in his studio at the Burren College of Art on May 20th to see the works in their final stages. This visit made a lasting impression on the group: they had never met a working artist or been inside a studio of art where the paint was still
wet.

With his characteristic openness, Richard welcomed the students to experience the paintings without over-intellectualizing them—which also became a greater invitation to experience what is around them in daily life, to
not fear that which is unfamiliar, to find joy in what they do. During the rest of our visit to Ireland, the students returned to that message of joy. It became a mantra for writing in journals and composing poetry in Dublin.

People often say that they don’t understand abstract art. I often hear the question, ‘What is it?’

When Richard spoke about these abstract works, we learned that a painting can be the size of a man; that the mark on the canvas is an extension of his arm; that color is emotion. Richard lifted and turned one of the canvases to show us how its size mirrored the size of his body. Between his outstretched arms, the canvas was lightly turned. Richard’s work is palpably physical.

What is it? It is him.