If you want to see a Pelican’s-eye view of the Loomis campus, stop by the Richmond Art Center this week. With assistance from students, Joe Hill ’93, a renowned 3D pavement artist, is painting a graphical optical illusion on the floor of the Sue and Eugene Mercy, Jr. Gallery that leaves the distinct impression that you are flying over Grubbs Quadrangle on the back of a pelican.
Joe began working in the gallery on Monday and will complete the large-scale painting by Saturday, when the school holds a huge Centennial Celebration across campus. Visitors and school community members who attend the celebration will be able to meet Joe and have their pictures taken as they interact with the painting, placing themselves in the depicted scene.
Loomis Chaffee students worked with Joe last spring to come up with the idea for the painting, and art students are helping him to paint portions of the wood-paneled “canvas.” Students also helped to design the brickwork pattern that frames the scene and resembles the Senior Path. Initials and signatures of several students appear in corners and edges of the painting. Joe explained that he encourages the students who assist him to leave their marks on the work in recognition of their participation and as part of the mosaic effect of the overall painting.
All week at any given hour during the day, students, faculty, and staff stop by the RAC to see the artist’s progress and take a peek at the scene from the exact vantage point that reveals the optical illusion.
Joe doesn’t mind the activity all around him. In fact, he said, he’s used to it. His pavement art, from a 1,000-square-meter Reebok CrossFit workout area he painted in London to the Boston skyline with a runner in the foreground that he created for last year’s Boston Marathon, invites participation and spectating.
“It’s really what I’m all about, or I try to be anyway, which is making art much more inclusive,” he said Thursday while painting strokes of blue sky in the Loomis scene. The London-based artist and former stage actor also is a screenwriter. He wrote the screenplay for the recently released film Blackwood, starring Ed Stoppard and Sophia Myles, and has another film in the works.
The Loomis Chaffee Centennial creation will remain on exhibit through October 22. The public is invited to visit during regular gallery hours, Monday through Friday from 10 a.m. to 4 p.m., Tuesday and Thursday evenings from 7:30 to 9 p.m., and Sundays from 1 p.m. to 4 p.m. There is no admission charge.