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The Scarlet & Black

The Scarlet & Black

Grinnell Artists: Tim Dooley ’17

Photo by Nora Coghlan

By Andrea Baumgartel

On a cloudy Wednesday afternoon, as I stepped into Bucksbaum studio 128B, I found Tim Dooley ‘17 in a continuous mental and physical rumination over his artwork.

Much like his deeply conceptual, cerebral prints, the creative process of the fourth-year Studio Art major, SEPC member and visual artist is equally abstract. Dooley himself had trouble translating his geometric projections into words.

“Something will hit me … I try to keep track of those thoughts that will resonate in me. I start to constantly turn them over and over in my head and exploit them in my mind,” he said, speaking with his hands and shifting his eyes far past the corners of the room, as if searching for answers in an invisible space.

He trailed off, but it was clear that he wasn’t finished speaking. Choosing his words like his carefully-cut vinyl stencils, he continued.

“I actually don’t think much about how people will receive my work. I don’t expect a certain reaction to any particular part of my work … I like different reactions. But I’m more concerned with making things I want to see,” he explained.

“I guess a lot of the times I’m just playing with shapes and seeing how I can create a tension between the flatness of the plane and the sense of volume something in that plane can provide, and mess with perceptions.”

For Dooley, movement and space are two themes that demand to be explored through art.

Photo by Nora Coghlan

“It’s one of those things where … how can you talk about space? The word itself can mean so many things. I don’t know what I can say about it other than to create it … all of this is still very new to me.”

In fact, prior to arriving at Grinnell, Dooley did not consider himself an artist. But after exploring different styles and sifting through the course catalog, Dooley found himself drawn to studio courses, his artistry more or less falling into his lap.

“It kind of happened by accident, and I ended up really enjoying it, and I had the credits, so I decided to major [in Studio Art] and never looked back,” Dooley admitted.

This go with the flow attitude and willingness to explore have served Dooley well, allowing his work to develop through what he deems a pattern of “convenient accidents.”

On a strangely warm day in December, Dooley grabbed a camera and a bicycle and set out into the cornfields, not knowing what he would find.

“Sort of out of nowhere, it started to rain and then that quickly passed, and then these huge thunder clouds rolled and created this drama,” he said. “It drew me in. And then the tornado sirens started wailing.”

So naturally, instead of seeking refuge, Dooley started capturing the storm with his camera. Some of the resulting photos, which have undergone vast manipulation in the studio, will be on display next week in Smith Gallery.

“Everyone always talks about the Iowa Sky,” Dooley said. “I’m from Minneapolis, which is so different, of course. Photography is an outlet that allows me to bring in parts of the world and as many points of view as possible into my work.”

Although Dooley firmly denies any ownership of an organizational personality, the Grinnell art scene has allowed him to take charge.

“Being in the studio is the one place where I can tap into that. When it comes to art, I am so detailed-oriented,” he explained.

The intensely methodical pace which Dooley approaches his work is perfectly complemented by the joy art elicits.

“Being a Studio Art major is just … so fun,” he said, grinning. “The thing is, I can see myself in another major, but there’s just something special about this major … along with the work being fun, there’s this community of very exciting, very eclectic and collaborative people.”

This collaborative aspect in the discipline happens on a lot of levels.

“It makes the world a little easier to have people doing the same but different work alongside you, where everyone is so supportive of everyone else’s endeavors” he said.

Dooley’s passion for the arts community is transcendent; it is a part of his current and future identity.

“In pursuing the visual arts, there’s such a tight-knit community that comes along with that. So finding that creative network is something that’s really important to me … I think a lot about volunteering and finding different ways to be involved.”

And for Dooley, being involved doesn’t always mean exclusively creating art. He also aims to create space for himself and other artists to feel safe and accepted.

“[We need] spaces for artists to express themselves and be recognized. Especially now,” he winced, thinking about the prospects for artists under our current presidential administration. “That safety is so important.”

Along with the other members of the Studio Art SEPC, Dooley is currently working to create such a space in Bucksbaum.

“[It will be a space] where anyone can just come and chill, draw, take their mind off of things. I have some friends that have never set foot in Bucksbaum, don’t really know what amazing things go on here, and we want to open it up to the rest of campus.”

Dooley’s work will be on display in Smith Gallery beginning Monday, Feb. 20.

Photo by Nora Coghlan
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