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Kiss Chris Reno on the Nose

By Doo Yong Shim

With works that screamed “all thunder, no lightning” from the Smith Gallery this past week, Christopher Reno introduced himself to the Grinnell art community and anyone who looks left while walking into the dining hall.

Reno joins Grinnell College’s Art faculty as the Art Technical Assistant with a recent MFA from the University of Iowa and an award from the National Museum of Fine Arts’ juried competition. He will be instructing the Introduction to Studio Art course in spring 2012.

Reno already likes teaching at Grinnell.

“Grinnell’s students are ambitious and ready to work, which makes my job a pleasure,” he said.

Reno marked his debut as the College’s Art Technical Assistant at an exhibition opening on Aug. 30 entitled “Marginalia.” Despite the hustle and bustle of the Joe Rosenfield Center, Christopher Reno’s artwork stood out in Smith Gallery, located next to the entrance of the Marketplace.

Marginalia is a text-based process by which artists illustrate specific words or phrases in an aesthetic form. In other words, it is a translation into art of scribbles in the “margins” of a text. The scribbles are not just scribbles—they are also the foundation of the work.

Reno’s enthusiasm for marginalia began after taking a book making class. While marginalia is a serious form of art, many people do not realize the time and effort it takes to finish a piece.

“Marginalia has deeper meanings,” Reno said. “It is a text-based painting and it definitely is difficult to understand.”

Often, words and phrases of marginalia occur randomly in the artist’s mind. “I get ideas from everywhere—even during conversations or walking. Many of them, however, have autobiographical meanings,” Reno said.

Some of Reno’s scribbles exhibited in Smith Gallery include: “kiss the bummy on the nose” and “loveanddeathandi.”
Reno often finds his inspiration by recycling scraps or thrown away pieces to build his next artwork.

In the future, Reno hopes to make marginalia a more widely recognized genre. For now, he will absorb the culture of Grinnell—perhaps the College will even serve as inspiration for his work.

“I’m enjoying Grinnell College and its vibrant Art department,” Reno said. “I look forward to learning as much from the students as they might from me, and awaiting those brief and wonderful moments when inspiration strikes.”

To view more of Reno’s artworks, visit

Chris Reno’s show in Smith Gallery– Marginalia, featured the high-impact “no lightning”
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    AnaFeb 5, 2012 at 7:45 am

    . I’m sure it’s all fine! xo N p.s. Milky toyso llallaaalalala duh winning I disagree. See we all have our own language.