Work is the secret to success

Merrill Peterson displays his art in the Nordstrand Visual Arts Gallery

Courtney Upah, Staff Writer

Can you trust your eyes?

This was the main question pre­sented by Merrill Peterson at the Artist Talk Wednesday in Gardner Auditorium.

Dr. Steve Elliott, Dean of Arts and Humanities, introduced Peterson, an artist and teacher who earned bachelor’s and master’s degrees in art from the University of Northern Iowa.

Peterson had these words for as­piring artists or anyone who wants to be successful.

“Work. The single biggest secret to it all is working, and working with intentional effort. There’s no substitute for practice,” he said.

As soon as Peterson came to the podium, he started talking about art, specifically how it is perceived and how space is used in his presentation titled “Working At Seeing.”

Peterson had interest in art since around two or three, but he never formally studied the subject until he got to college. One of the main works that caught his interest was the impossible trident he saw on Mad Magazine.

The impossible trident is an im­age that has retinal rivalry–an image that sends off identical waves so it confuses the brain.

Another example that challenges visual perception was “the shepard table.” It has legs that are drawn differently, making it seem like one of the two tables is larger than the other. This is an example of con­firmation bias, which occurs when the brain sees what it expects to see rather than what is actually there.

“It’s not what you look at but what you see,” Peterson said.

Peterson is an artist, teacher and photographer. His pieces currently deal with space and this same chal­lenge of space and perception.

The oil paintings Peterson cre­ates are a mixture of realism and abstract making for a unique point of view on art and life. This work often deals with reflective surfaces and mirrored images. These oil paintings focus on using reflection with objects like windows, doors and bowls to name a few. Peterson particularly liked using his wife’s watering can in his art since it also had a reflective surface.

Overall, Peterson spends about six to seven hours in his studio ev­ery day, seven days a week, working on his art, showing he doesn’t shy away from working hard himself.

After the talk, the Nordstrand Visual Arts Gallery was opened to showcase Peterson’s art.

It only seems fitting to end with his words of wisdom on life.

“The most important thing, not just for painters or artists but for anyone, is to find something that they really love and care about then find a way to make that work in your life. Which isn’t all that easy, but at least it will make for a more satisfying life,” Peterson said.