The photography and paintings of Hillsdale College professors Doug Coon and Sam Knecht will be displayed this week in “Looking U.P.” – an exhibit that shows the beauty of Michigan’s Upper Peninsula.
“I love the U.P. for how remote and foreign it is,” Knecht said in an email. “It eludes mainstream America and provides so much in the way of wilderness beauty mixed with odd remnants of human civilization. Our subjects in the art exhibit will demonstrate that.”
The exhibit is the result of a decade of Knecht and Coon’s exploration of the peninsula, where Knecht said their travels were not only about seeing the well-known landmarks but also “straying from the beaten path and being open to a chance discovery.”
“There are some well-known landmarks in the U.P. that Doug and I have dealt with in our work, but in those cases we try to give them a fresh ‘take,’” Knecht said. “On the other hand, we like coming upon random, unexpected scenes where momentary impulse jumps in.”
Knecht said although he has done paintings and portraits since high school, he was also the art department’s photography teacher for 24 years before Coon.
“Photography continues as a mainstay for my painting career,” Knecht said. “I use the camera as a ‘sketching’ or recording tool and often judge compositional ideas with camera shots.”
Coon, who will present the photography in the exhibit, said the Upper Peninsula is a “great location” for the type of work he enjoys.
“I enjoy wandering aimlessly when I’m traveling,” Coon said in an email. “The lack of people and quality of roads and trails allows for that type of travel.”
Coon added that he hopes his art will pull the viewer into his experience.
“I hope that I’m able to convey not only what the region looks like but my feelings of what I was witnessing,” Coon said. “I believe that good art allows for both of those to be experienced by the viewer.”
Knecht and Coon will host an artist’s reception from 6 p.m. to 9 p.m. on Saturday, Sept. 7. The artwork will be on display until Oct. 9.
“I hope they like the work and have enjoyed vicariously of getting a glimpse of what intrigued us enough to want to capture what we discovered there,” Knecht said.