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USD professor's imagery triggers emotion in art

WORTHINGTON -- Sometimes Harvey Fields scans a painting into the computer in order to manipulate the image. Other times, he prints out a digital image and then uses paint to enhance it.

However the process begins, Fields' artwork, currently on display at Minnesota West Community and Technical College, Worthington campus, is an intriguing melding of traditional and digital media intended to elicit a response from the viewer.

"Imagery triggers emotion," explained Fields about his work. "One thing I've noticed when people speak of the paintings is they say that every time they see it, come at it from a different direction, they see something different. It keeps evolving with their state of mind."

Fields is currently a professor of graphics-multimedia at the University of South Dakota, Vermillion. A native of Milwaukee, he served in the military during the Vietnam War.

"When I returned to the States, I knew I had to figure out a way to express what I was feeling -- my perspectives, thoughts," he recalled. "I could write it down, write a book, or yell it from my soapbox, but only about 10 percent of the world is actually literate. At that time, it was probably even less. Of that 10 percent, very few ever take the time to read. So how was I going to get my message across to the majority of our world population?"

Art -- visual depictions that would convey his message to everyone -- seemed like the answer. Fields began expressing his ideas through drawing and painting, initially beginning with illustrations and then gravitating toward much larger canvasses -- designing billboard signs for commercial enterprises. At the time, he was living in the Somerset, Wis., area, and he began to explore other aspects of artwork by taking classes at the University of Wisconsin-River Falls.

One of his mentors acquired a computer and convinced Fields to enroll in a course in computer-generated artwork. He rediscovered an affinity for such technology.

"I had been introduced to computers in the military," he said.

Soon, Fields was helping the instructors learn how to digitalize three-dimensional art, and one of his teachers encouraged him to pursue a teaching degree in this cutting-edge technology. There were few programs available, but he received a full scholarship to the University of Wisconsin-Madison. During his second year there, the university developed a multimedia program that involved experts from around the world.

Now, computer-aided graphic and multimedia design is more commonplace, but Fields said there are many opportunities in the field yet to be explored, and he hopes to help chart the direction it takes.

"My objectives of multimedia are to develop a number of communication arts techniques," Fields said in his artist's statement, "such as The Creator -- seeing from an exciting, interesting perspective and delivering that visual statement; The Viewer -- using images, text and or sounds the audience needs in order to comprehend the message; Theorist, how elements and images can be used to convey the message; and The Historian, a knowledge and history (sustainability) of communication arts."

Fields' exhibit will hang in the Fine Arts Building at Minnesota West until Jan. 31. He will present a lecture, "Art and the Black Culture," from noon to 1 p.m. Jan. 31 in the Fine Arts Theater. A reception, with refreshments, will follow from 1:30 to 2:30 p.m.

Beth Rickers

Beth Rickers is the veteran in the newspaper staff with 25 years as the Daily Globe's Features Editor. Interests include cooking, traveling and beer tasting and making with her home-brewing husband, Bryan. She writes an Area Voices blog called Lagniappe, which is a Creole term that means "a little something extra." It can be found at  

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