Art patrons who visit the new exhibit “Under Indiana Skies: Pulaski County” at the Indiana University Northwest Savannah Gallery for Contemporary Art, may be surprised at the vibrancy of featured artist Lee Heinsen-Ligocki’s striking watercolor paintings. Heinsen-Ligocki, a former IU Northwest student who is married to fellow artist and former IU Northwest instructor Gordon Ligocki (whose work is also exhibited), said her trick is to apply her pigments directly onto the moistened canvas, rather than mixing the paints on her palette.
“I love the fluidity of (watercolor) and the spontaneity of it. I also love the fact that I can get this really good color that I couldn’t get with a lot of other types of (paints),” Heinsen-Ligocki said during a July 26 reception for the exhibit. This is the third year for the “Under Indiana Skies” series, which profiles artists from one of Northwest Indiana’s seven counties each summer. “I couldn’t get that transparent, free feeling that I get with watercolor. It feels fluid and more free, and I try to keep my work that way.”
Heinsen-Ligocki’s exhibited works have a fantastical element to them, but she said there is always an underlying idea at work.
“There is always an idea behind it,” she said of her art, which often addresses the themes of womanhood, morality, nature, and consumerism. “I drive a semi (truck) during the week, so I may hear something on the radio that triggers an idea. Or someone’s conversation triggers an idea.
“One thing that truck driving has done is let me see the other side of the world,” she added. “It’s opened my eyes not just to what I call a philosophical education about the world, but also the more common side of the world. It’s given me a different perspective for my artwork.”
Heinsen-Ligocki’s paintings and sketches provide a nice contrast to her husband’s three-dimensional sculpture work. Some of his most striking pieces in the “Under Indiana Skies” exhibit are bird sculptures that he has crafted from pieces of wood and other odds and ends. The birds are suspended from the gallery ceiling, placement that only adds to their stark presence in the exhibit.
“I like sculpture that does what you don’t expect it to,” he said. “To have it suspended in the air instead of sitting on the ground … there’s something about having it placed in that rarified state.
“I work a lot from scavenge,” Ligocki explained. “In fact, almost all of the pieces involve one form of scavenge or another. I use a lot of found material.”
Other Ligocki artworks include an unusual lamp with X-rays for a lampshade and a small monument made of data boards and circuitry. For more information, contact IU Northwest Gallery Curator Ann Fritz at (219) 980-6891.