Dr. Christopher Strickland is known by students throughout the Hastings College campus as a first-year seminar professor, as well as a professor within the Arts Department, but recently he has been recognized for a different passion of his. Entitled “Liminality: Reflections of a Changing Life,” Stickland’s very own gallery show of abstract watercolor paintings is on display in the Jackson Dinsdale Art Center and open for public viewing Monday through Friday, 9 a.m. to 5 p.m, until Nov. 21.
Strickland’s 22 paintings are intended to be a representation of the changes that occurred in his life from April 2019 to Sept. 2020, and how these changes made him the person he is today. The reference to “liminality” in the title holds deep meaning in regards to the purpose behind the paintings.
“My understanding of liminality is looking at those cultural experiences that I’ve had that are personal but are also shared by others, and reflecting on what I have learned as a result of being in those experiences. In that process, I use abstraction and I use painting to help me process and reflect upon these ideas and to make meaning out of what I am experiencing,” Strickland said.
Through his paintings, Strickland was able to make sense out of multiple drastic life changes, including divorce, a cross-country move, finding a new community, adjusting to teaching higher education and the COVID-19 pandemic.
“Each painting tells the story of the narrative of some of the events in my life that I shared. They show that sense of trajectory of coming to a place of ‘here is where I am’. Some of it’s been good, some of it’s been hard, some of it’s been unpleasant or sad. But all in all, those experiences help culminate to make me who I am and to make me stronger in that process,” Strickland said.
Strickland’s biggest hope is that, through his art, he can relate to his students and fellow community members who are also learning to adapt and inspire them to embrace the changes in their lives.
“Change can really be good if we allow ourselves to be open to the lessons that come with those events and experiences. As we transform and grow, hindsight can show us the benefits of change,” Strickland said.