Back Again | Arts News | Seven Days | Vermont's Independent Voice
Pin It

Back Again 

State of the Arts

"Split Second Halo" by Michael Oatman
  • "Split Second Halo" by Michael Oatman

Michael Oatman may have left Vermont, but he’s certainly not forgotten. Barre-based art collector Mark Waskow provides a reminder of this talented native son — now an associate professor and permanent artist-in-residence at Rensselaer Polytechnic Institute in Troy, N.Y. — with an exhibit of Oatman’s drawings and collages at 215 College Gallery. The display represents about a quarter of the 80 Oatman works, made from 1982 to ’94, in Waskow’s private collection (the “Waskowmium”). Cleverly titled “Past Forward,” the exhibit reveals Oatman’s prescient skill in combining techniques and artistic media before “mixed media” work became commonplace. In addition to his complex layering, Oatman astutely melds fragments of popular culture, history and natural science. But rather than relying on fashionable irony, he capably grounds his work in the formal properties of visual art.

Oatman, now 46, graduated from the Rhode Island School of Design and earned his MFA at the University at Albany-SUNY in 1992. He taught at the University of Vermont and St. Michael’s College for most of the remaining decade before leaving for RPI in 1999. Oatman might best be remembered in Burlington for a massive and obsessively detailed 1995 installation at the Fleming Museum that addressed the sore subject of eugenics in Vermont’s past. He’s referred to his installations as “meta-drawings,” says Waskow. “He’s testing the limits of all these media.” But regardless of what one calls it, “It’s more important to experience the work,” Waskow concludes.

“Past Forward”

Artworks by Michael Oatman, 215 College Gallery in Burlington. Through Sunday, March 21. Info, 863-3662.

Did you appreciate this story?

Show us your ❤️ by becoming a Seven Days Super Reader.

Got something to say? Send a letter to the editor and we'll publish your feedback in print!

Pin It

About The Author

Pamela Polston

Pamela Polston

Pamela Polston is the cofounder, coeditor and associate publisher of Seven Days. In 2015, she was inducted into the New England Newspaper Hall of Fame.


Subscribe to this thread:

Add a comment

Seven Days moderates comments in order to ensure a civil environment. Please treat the comments section as you would a town meeting, dinner party or classroom discussion. In other words, keep commenting classy! Read our guidelines...

Note: Comments are limited to 300 words.

Keep up with us Seven Days a week!

Sign up for our fun and informative

All content © 2019 Da Capo Publishing, Inc. 255 So. Champlain St. Ste. 5, Burlington, VT 05401
Website powered by Foundation