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Home » Campus News and Events » April 2010-Press Release Archive » 4-19-10, Paintings by J.R. DeMers, Bonnie Loukus at Reflection Gallery

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Buckthorn by Bonnie LoukusPaintings by J.R. DeMers, Bonnie Loukus at Reflection Gallery

HANCOCK, MI - The Finlandia University Reflection Gallery will host a dual exhibit of oil and sumi-e watercolor paintings by J.R. DeMers, and oil paintings by Bonnie Loukus April 27 to August 28, 2010.

An opening reception and artist talk will take place Tuesday, April 27, 12:00 to 1:00 p.m., at the Reflection Gallery. The reception is free and all are welcome. Refreshments will be served.

Sloth by JR DeMersJ.R. DeMers, a junior at Finlandia University, is completing a cross-concentration bachelor of fine arts degree in both fiber/fashion design and illustration. She is exhibiting a series of sumi-e paintings titled, "7 Deadly Sins," and a series of oil paintings on wood illustrating the "7 Heavenly Virtues."

Bonnie Loukus is presenting a series of oil paintings titled, "Changing Landscapes: Invasive Species in the Great Lakes Region." Loukus, assistant director of the Copper Country Community Arts Center, Hancock, graduates from Finlandia this spring with a bachelor of arts in Finlandia's interdisciplinary honors program, Arts, Culture, and Environment (ACE).

Loukus describes her exhibition as a body of work that reflects a small selection of exotic species within the Great Lakes region. "I have chosen to depict a variety of plants, insects, and aquatic life," she explains. "My intent is to illustrate the diverse range of species that are non-native to our region, as well as the problems they are causing."

Loukus' vibrant oil paintings give the viewer an up-close and personal view of eight different invasive species. "Some have high aesthetic beauty, while others are fairly nondescript... some highlight how beautiful an invasive species can be, while other paintings highlight the threats they pose."

Loukus' paintings invite viewers to explore closely the problem of invasive species in the Upper Peninsula. "Research, articles, and advisories educate the public about invasive species, but other than photographs, there is little visual interpretation," she says.

"Art has the ability to address these issues with visual and thought-provoking impact," Loukus adds. "It is a necessary tool to give another perspective to the public about current environmental problems. Art is a catalyst for dialogue."

J.R. DeMers notes that the inspiration for the two series of paintings on display began with a desire to present her spin on a popular theme. After finishing the series of deadly sins, she wanted to accompany the first series with its counterpart, the heavenly virtues.

"The material on which the deadly sins are drawn is made of delicate paper constructed with cicada wings, which represents the nurturing and fragile nature of a woman, while the virtues are painted on wood," DeMers said.

DeMers's paintings cast the Sins as women, and the Virtues as Men. She explains her rationale, "In Christianity, Eve is said to have committed the first sin. I have realized that when a woman carries out an action that is considered bad, the same action is sometimes considered good, or even encouraged, for a male."

On the opposite side of the spectrum, DeMers depicts men as the virtuous ones. "Always venerated for their heroisms, men are the breadwinners, the head of the household, the one who wears the pants," she explains.

The Reflection Gallery is located on the second level of Finlandia's Jutila Center campus, 200 Michigan St., Hancock.

For additional information, contact Yueh-mei Cheng, associate professor of studio arts, at 906-487-7375 or

Photo cutlines:

"Buckthorn" by Bonnie Loukus

"Acedia (Sloth)" by J.R. DeMers