Steckline Gallery's latest piece showcases "Ugly Pretty"

By: Emily Larkin, Staff Writer

Steckline Gallery is making trash stylish with its new installation “Ugly Pretty.”

Designed by local artist Matthew Hilyard, “Ugly Pretty” focuses on how beauty can be found in even the most unlikely of materials, Director of Steckline Gallery Shannon Johnston said.

“Hilyard combines traditional painting materials with non-traditional materials and found objects, “such as magazine covers, tape, shopping bags, and glitter to make abstract compositions,” she said.

Hilyard said he usually works from no sketches and no preset color scheme to create organic pieces.

“These works share interesting similarities of approach and are consummate examples of an intuitive take on materials and processes,” he said. “I take only from my personal environment to deconstruct and construct ideas.”

Johnston pins Hilyard’s artistic processes as being one reason his work was chosen to be displayed in Steckline Gallery.

“This approach of being driven by the materials and process is a good counterpoint to exhibits driven by subject matter,” she said. “As the gallery director, I try to get a mix of both approaches to offer a wider range of experiences to our viewers.”

Along with his methods, Johnston attributes her decision to display “Ugly Pretty” to the great success Hilyard has had in the Wichita art scene.

“Hilyard has been a staple in the Wichita art community for many years now, showing regularly at galleries all over town [including previous shows at Steckline] and teaching at Mark Arts,” she said.

Johnston said she believes this installation will help open students’ minds about what art can be.

“Hilyard and I were discussing yesterday how his work shows that anything can be art,” she said. “I hope that students see that and walk away from this exhibit with a renewed appreciation for an eye to look for the beauty all around us. Even in the non-traditional or ugly things.”

The First Friday reception for “Ugly Pretty” will be from 5 to 8 p.m. on Friday at Steckline Gallery in De Mattias Hall.