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Theoretical physics, art collide in Shafer exhibit

• The Shafer Art Gallery will also display ceramic pieces by studio potter Brenda Lichman. For that story click here.

The search for meaning in life is one as old as time. People have gone to extremes to explore this question. Professor and artist Wayne Conyers’ search for meaning explores the world of theoretical physics through his art.
The Shafer Gallery will host his latest exhibit, “Quarks, Quirks & Quantum Conundrums”, from Jan. 13 through Feb. 10. An opening reception will be held at 6:30 p.m. Friday, Jan. 13 at the gallery. The reception will feature refreshments and a gallery talk by the artist.
This year the Kansas Art Education Association named Conyers Outstanding Art Educator in Higher Education for the 2016-2017 academic year. He was struck when he received a letter informing him he was the recipient.
“Twice I have been ‘Professor of the Year’ here at McPherson College; that has been pretty cool,” he said. “But to be named professor of the state — wow, that means a lot to me.”
Conyers has taught art for 43 years, 10 at Baldwin City high school and 33 at McPherson College.
In addition to teaching and creating art, Conyers loves to learn about theoretical physics.
“It fascinates me. Trying to prove the theory of everything.” Conyers said. “Anything that has to do with ‘You know what? There may be something greater to reality than what we can perceive,’ fascinates me.”
During the fall of 2013, Conyers took a sabbatical and decided he would read about theoretical physics and paint and see what happens. Soon inspirations would appear and as a result, Conyers created the beautiful works of art that can be seen in his newest exhibit.
Some of the featured work took an incredible amount of time and others were more spontaneous. All of it comes back to his driving force to find meaning.
“Everything relates back to the idea of trying to understand what is going on in the world that we cannot see,” he said.
While Conyers is best known for his watercolor pieces, that will not be the only medium featured in this show.
Conyers’s drawings are based around whether time even exists.
“The titles of the drawings are the moments I finished them,” Conyers said. “If it was 11:50 p.m. then that was the title of it.”
Another inspiration came from his studies of the smallest sub-particles of matter that make up our world. This can be seen in his “Quantum Chromodynamics Fluctuation” series featured in his show. Conyers took his paintings and began to zoom into the furthest point possible on a computer which left him with only pixels. Pixels turned into patterns and patterns into inspirations for his art, but not re-creations.
“What is the most elemental building block that matter is made of?” Conyers asked. “That is what the Chromodynamics pieces are about.”
Conyers organized the pieces in this show based on concept, with an explanation of what he was thinking about or where his inspiration came from. This way Conyers hopes viewers are given the opportunity to properly respond to his work instead of questioning what is going on.