Alan Larkin received his BA in art from Carleton College in Northfield Minnesota in 1975 and his MFA in printmaking from the Pennsylvania State University in 1977. Though retired, he taught drawing and printmaking for almost forty years at Indiana University South Bend. He has won many prizes in regional, national and international competitions for his artwork, including the prestigious Founder’s Award in the 2016 Pastel 100 Competition sponsored by the Pastel Journal and the Best of Show Award at the 75th and 91st Annual Hoosier Salon Exhibition in Indianapolis. His works are in numerous public and private collections including the South Bend Museum of Art, the Fort Wayne Museum of Art, the Indiana State Museum and the corporate collections of Pillsbury, NIPSCO, and Lincoln Life Insurance Companies. His work may be seen on the web at www.AlanLarkin.net.
I like art that has more going on – a narrative program – an involved design – high level skills. It should merge intellectual and emotional intelligence. Let’s call it a problem-solving activity. As in any form of research, an experiment is created, and a solution is derived after a struggle. In the case of art all the preliminaries are hidden, and the result must not only seem surprising but obvious. And it should be elegant – worthy of approval by sage-looking colleagues in white smocks – but also understandable to many, “Alan’s Excellent Adventure”.
The magical, the essence of the artistic enterprise, hides in plain sight, in games, in myths, in the little objects that I collect and then personify, in animals, in a model’s glance. Not all things speak to me in the same way, but I find myself listening to them carefully, always trying to discern their true nature. My most recent favorite things to draw are arranged in a long row on their own shelf. I look for juxtapositions that tell stories that are tender, funny or mysterious.
If you are like me then you hate to see yourself as simple, boring, or predictable. I detest repeating myself so as I work on one idea, I will be searching for the next one. In the search for a new starting place I clip photographs, organize them in categories and store them in three ring binders for inspiration. When I work with still life, I sometimes build things: a small theater, a Tinkertoy construction. I admire a lot of different artists for different reasons, and borrow from everyone, though I am resistant to joining groups. I love impressionist landscapes, for instance, but have an innate distrust of any school of thought that prohibits the gratuitous use of elephants or small mammals. Art, one hopes, will help the mind to remain flexible and fresh. I don’t want to be afraid to try something new.