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‘A Strange Sea’ is unusual art exhibit
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Digital artist Thomas Giebler is pictured at work on a digital piece. His exhibit “In A Small Sea” will be on display at the Sterling College Art Center Gallery through Jan. 15.

STERLING — The latest art exhibition at the Sterling College Art Center Gallery does not feature watercolor or oil painting or even photography. Instead, the show will feature a variety of cartoon characters as well as video game imagery and even music album artwork. The exhibit features the work of Thomas Giebler, art faculty member from Fort Hays State University. The show will open this Friday, Dec. 1 with an Artist Talk and reception from 6 to 8 p.m. at the Gallery, 306 W. Washington, Sterling.

“My art is bright, energetic, and story-centric,” Giebler said. “In any piece I create, I always focus on creating worlds and the character(s) that occupy them. My goal as an artist is to challenge people to think more joyfully about the world around them – It can be a pretty whimsical, beautiful place with the right perspective.”

Giebler’s exhibit is entitled “In A Small Sea” and includes everything from traditional painting, fabric arts, augmented reality experiences, to animation. Giebler says he enjoys exploring a wide range of mediums with his work and sees an opportunity for specific storytelling in each of them. “Regardless of medium, each piece aims to take you on a journey to another world,” he said.

Giebler said he had an interest in the arts from a young age. 

“I was practically born with a pencil in my hand. What drove me to the graphic arts in general was being introduced to the world of digital painting. My parents – my biggest supporters – bought me a Wacom drawing tablet when I was in middle school. I quickly watched every tutorial I could find and explored the medium on my own. This opened so many doors at the intersection of art and technology; an intersection I find myself always at. The beautiful thing about the graphic arts is that it is always evolving alongside technology. Keeping up with it not only keeps me challenged but also lets me see the artistic side of things with a fresh perspective every time,” he said.

“My creative process is anything but linear,” he continued. “It always starts with a spark of inspiration, whether it be a film I just watched or seeing a piece of gum stuck to a pigeon’s foot. I then start to explore a myriad of possible story directions mentally before pencil hits paper. Once the idea is there, regardless of medium, the process usually goes pretty quick. I leave the process as organic as possible in the early stages to leave room for surprises and discovery. By working in this intentionally imperfect state, I minimize the fear of failure and allow myself room for exploration. Finally, once I’m happy with where things are heading, I put a final polish on everything. When the art can speak for itself, my job is done.”

Giebler’s Artist Talk on Friday night will explore the significance of storytelling in art and the importance of leaving room for exploration and discovery. The exhibit will be on display weekdays from 9 a.m. to 5 p.m. through January 15. The exhibit and the Artist Talk and reception are all open to the public free of charge. 

Sterling College is a Christ-centered, four-year college with a mission to develop creative and thoughtful leaders who understand a maturing Christian faith. For more information, visit www.sterling.edu.