Faculty artist lures audience with natural science, drawing and journaling

Igor Stepczynski | Broadcast Reporter

Baylor’s Martin Museum of Art is hosting a biennial faculty art exhibition where the university’s own art faculty and lecturers are given the opportunity for their own work to be put on display for the community. The exhibition is free admission and will be available through March 1st.

Each section has the artists name, their work and a personal quote that gives a sneak peak of their character. One artist that may catch your eye is senior lecturer Greg Lewallen. The quote that appears under his name is as follows:

“I could survive in a post apocalyptic world with nothing more than my pocketknife. This is all I need. That and this lamp. My pocketknife and this lamp. That’s all I need. And this chair. My pocketknife, this lamp, and this chair. That’s all I need.”

The artwork displayed above the quote is just as fascinating, with extremely detailed drawings of insects layered above writing.

Upon stepping into his office, it’s immediately clear that this is no typical artists workspace. He has a bulletin board filled with memorabilia from traveling with dozens of preserved insect specimen framed above his desk. Greg said that this hobby of insect collecting started when he was 5 years old and caught his first insect: a monarch butterfly.

This passion of his has taken him around the globe as well.

“In all, 19 countries where I’ve collected insects,” he said. “It is just a passion I’ve had since I was a kid.”

He said that in elementary school, he was always known as the “kid who could draw.” In combination with his affinity for natural science, it is no surprise that the drawings of these insects are nothing less that spectacularly detailed.

“I started merging these two interests into one,” he said. “It’s now become a significant body of work I’ve been working on for 5 years now.”

However, as mentioned earlier, spectators will also notice a background layer of writing that adds depth to the work as a whole. This legible writing is actually a personal narrative about the experience of catching that specific bug. Thanks to this innovative addition of journaling, the audience is now immersed into the tantalizing stories that Greg accumulated from around the world.

He reflected upon a moment where a friend suggested he should start writing his stories down. “[He told me,] ‘Greg you gotta write these stories down,’” he reminisced. “‘If nothing else, your grandchildren need to know about your adventures!’ I picked up the pencil and started writing directly onto the drawing, and it completely transformed the drawing into something different.”

From what was already an impressive and detailed work, the pieces now offer a new experience for the audience. An experience that, as he surprisingly found, lures the spectators into appreciating his art in deeper depth by taking a stroll down his own personal memories. When all is said and done, viewers have the best of both worlds: art and storytelling that provides a new, memorable and entertaining experience to the realm of art exhibits.

“Each bug is like photograph in a family album to me” Lewallen said. “When they see the writing, it pulls them in. I’ve had people stand in front of my drawings for 15-20 minutes, reading the entire drawing…and that doesn’t happen for an artist.”

Needless to say, Greg Lewallen’s meticulous work surely stands out from the crowd and is definitely worth seeing (and reading).