The title of Kansas artist Kathleen Schroeder’s exhibit now in Bethel College’s Regier Art Gallery came from her father.
The show is “Read the Pictures: Notes from a Visual Learner,” which opened Oct. 4 in the gallery in Luyken Fine Arts Center at the college.
“The title of my exhibit is advice my father gave me when I was learning to cane a chair,” Schroeder said. “I asked him how to weave a detail of the pattern and he told me: ‘Read the pictures.’
“For me this was good advice, because I am a visual learner. My notes and the books I create are primarily visual. But I also love words. My favorite game is Scrabble and I read constantly.”
According to her artist statement, Schroeder said that in her art, she tries “to combine my fascination with the visual world (and) my love of words and books."
“I like the way books reveal information in layers," she wrote. "The cover invites me in. There is an element of mystery. I have some information but not the whole story.
“I read the first few lines and begin to imagine what this book is about. I continue to read and reflect on the ideas revealed in the text. Themes emerge and some repeat. New concepts appear and I try to figure out how they fit and how they change the book.
“My sculptural books are an attempt to create visual context in this layered way.”
Schroeder notes that throughout her long teaching career, she tried to follow the rule that “I must complete each assignment I give my students at least once.”
Some of the resulting pieces included in “Read the Pictures” are “Global Warming” (sculptural book with hand-dyed paper); “31 Nights” (sketchbook of self-portraits); “Morning Has Broken” (experimental acrylic painting of a moment in time); and “Overlooked” (drawing inspired by another artist, in this case, Georgia O’Keeffe and her advice to “take time to look”).
Schroeder grew up in Arlington, where she attended Fairfield High School. She graduated from Bethel College in 1977 with a bachelor's in art, and 10 years later earned her master's degree in art education from Wichita State University.
She retired in 2014 after teaching art at Hesston High School for 37 years. Since then, she has freelanced as a teacher and artist, teaching art classes and workshops at Bethel, Hesston, McPherson and Sterling Colleges, and Hutchinson Community College.
As a member of Tabor Mennonite Church in rural Newton, Schroeder leads the Art and Visuals Team. She is a member of the Kansas Art Education Association, serving as advocacy chair on the KAEA board.
Schroeder’s work can be seen at the Carriage Factory Art Gallery in Newton. She is a member of the Carriage Factory board, as well as the Kauffman Museum Education Committee, where she enjoys celebrating Kansas Day every January.
“Read the Pictures” will be on display through Oct. 25.
Regier Gallery hours 9 a.m. to 5 p.m. Mondays through Fridays and 2 to 4 p.m. Sundays (hours may change during Bethel College’s fall break, Oct. 19-22). There is no admission charge.