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Mini-retrospective captures artful journey

Staff writer

Art has been such a part of Marion High School graduate Wayne Conyers’s life that he can’t remember a time when it wasn’t.

“It’s always been a way to escape the world and its problems,” he said. “I can remember in fourth grade, if I came home and had a headache, I would get my sketchbook out and go to the backyard, and in a half an hour, the headache would be gone.

“It’s been a type of therapy all my life.”

Conyers, born in Wichita but raised in Marion, is prepping for a mini-retrospective of his work — “Wayne Conyers: A Small Glimpse of a Long and Continuing Journey.” The show of 47 pieces will have an opening reception 6 to 8 p.m. Nov. 19 at Carriage Factory Art Gallery, Newton.

Conyers, who graduated from Marion High School in 1970, will speak at 7 p.m. The show will hang through Jan. 14.

Conyers taught art for 44 years — first at Baldwin High School in the northeastern part of the state and then at McPherson College, where he is professor emeritus.

He paused when asked about his art. It doesn’t really fit into a tidy category, he said.

“Most of it’s pretty surreal,” he said. “My work is not about pursuing beauty. It’s about pursuing meaning.”

He mostly creates in watercolor, pastels, and ceramics.

“I have a concept before I have an image,” he said.

He works methodically, and some pieces can take more than a year to complete, he said.

“I start with a preliminary drawing. Sometimes I’ll have an idea in my head for one or two years,” he said. “My whole gig is this: I come up with a concept that has some kind of meaning to me. I have to problem-solve. I have to visually come up with something.”

He works in series a lot and, with an interest in theoretical physics, is “fascinated by realities that can be mathematically supported but can’t be proven.”

Conyers has shown at more than 200 exhibitions, including two overseas. His show will cover about 40 years of his work. He considers 1984 to be the “birth of the style that I’m known for.”

He never intended to stay at McPherson College for 35 years, he said.

“That was going to be a stepping-off place to go to someplace else,” he said. “It didn’t work out that way. They kept giving me reasons to stay.”

Last modified Nov. 10, 2022

 

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