New Davis Hall painting nears completion

Wendy Chambers (left), a senior art major from Wayne, and Steve Breerwood, assistant professor of fine art, work together to complete the new painting above the outside doors of Davis Hall Amphitheater at USAO.

New Davis Hall painting nears completion



A colorful, rich and mysterious painting – that thoughtfully captures the interdisciplinary USAO mission – will greet students as they arrive on Aug. 29 for the first day of classes. Intricate and lush, the new work incorporates symbols drawn from literature, science, philosophy and history.


Conceived by Steve Breerwood, assistant professor of fine art, the painting was begun during the independent study period by Breerwood and a small team of students under his supervision.


Student painters Wendy Chambers, a senior art major from Wayne, Sarah Hartzell, a senior art major from Amber and Kelsea Mallette, a freshman art major from Spencer, gained invaluable experience.


The painting, says Breerwood, explores themes of creativity as a universal force.


“I knew it needed to include ideas that crossed disciplines. The two most prominent images are that of a muse and a lamp, suggesting the arts. Above, we can see the Milky Way and below, we have the bower bird which represent the physical and natural sciences,” Breerwood explains.


“I chose the satin bower bird specifically because the male of the species builds an arch-shaped bower out of thatched twigs and grasses.  Then he’ll select only blue things to decorate the area around the bower.  This is not a nest.  The only purpose it serves to impress the female satin bower bird.  It’s sexual selection.  When the female comes to visit the male, he will even work a dance performance into the presentation.  The female chooses to mate with the male who is the best well-rounded artist. Though we can argue that what he does is driven by instinct, the result is a kind of art which ties back in to our theme of creativity.”


The painting is being completed using fast-drying acrylic paints and is Breerwood’s largest work.


Breerwood earned his bachelor of arts from Nicholls State University in Louisiana and his master of fine arts from Florida State University. He has exhibited his art in Louisiana, Oklahoma, Florida, New York, Georgia and Germany.


Chambers has been on the project with him from the beginning.


“He is a great painter and my mentor,” Chambers says. “It’s been a valuable experience to work beside him as he promotes both conceptual and technical development in his students.”


There are numerous challenges to working on a painting of this size, Chambers says.


“The hardest part is dealing with perspective, which tends to get distorted on this scale unless you are very careful. It’s hard breaking things down into pieces while remembering that they are part of a much larger whole.”


Breerwood has not yet named the painting, which is on schedule to be completed by the time classes begin on Aug. 29.