Symbolism in Art as Presented by Professor Eriksen

Toni Ortivez
The Paw Print

Last Wednesday night Professor Eriksen presented the fourth faculty lecture of the semester.  Eriksen is an associate professor of art in his eighth year at Adams State College. His lecture was entitled “Beyond the da Vinci Code: Symbolism in Art” and is available for student viewing on the Adams State College home page under faculty lectures.

Professor Eriksen received his masters of fine arts at the University of Idaho and taught design for seven years in New Zealand. Eriksen focused on the many different symbols that can be found in art through the ages. He chose prime examples of symbols in art and explained several of the meanings to the audience.

Eriksen discussed the use of groupings of three to represent the Trinity as well as the use of light to create a halo effect without directly including the halo. He discussed many of the different symbols and back stories of each piece he discussed. Eriksen also presented the idea that symbols change over time and should be considered not only in current times but also when the pieces were created.

One such example of meanings and intent being skewed was the “American Gothic” done by Grant Wood. Eriksen said, “Grand Wood painted his dentist and his sister in the painting…technically speaking it’s supposed to be father and daughter.”  Eriksen mentions that when this painting first came out it was often mocked. However, the painting in itself became a symbol for the struggling people during the time of the depression and was no longer mocked. Eriksen went over the symbols in this painting and said, “This is one of the most parodied paintings, even more so than the Mona Lisa.”

There were many other paintings that Eriksen went over such as the “Marriage of Arnolfini” by Jan van Eyck as well as “David” by Michelangelo.  He went over the use of symbols not only in paintings and two-dimensional pieces, but also in sculpture, which was displayed in “David.” Eriksen also showed a video clip of the introduction to Desperate Housewives and how it parodies, as well as skews ,the meaning of many pieces throughout history.

 Overall, there were many symbols discussed in this faculty lecture, but Eriksen also wanted to encourage the audience to look for symbols on their own. The purpose of this lecture was not only to go over some of the more prominent symbols in art but to also persuade the audience to look at art in a different light. It became apparent at the end of the lecture that Eriksen not only wanted to share his knowledge but also to advocate the audiences’ own ability to search for meaning.

The next faculty lecture at Adams State College will be Wednesday, April 7 at 7 p.m. in POR room 130. This lecture will be given by associate professor of government Dr. Stephen Roberds and is entitled “Sex, Money, and Deceit: Incumbent Scandals in U.S. Congressional Elections.”  This lecture will focus on the repercussions of political scandals and how they can affect those involved. It will also discuss the idea of how each scandal can help or hurt a candidate. For more information or any questions regarding the faculty lectures contact Dr. Robert Astalos. is powered by WordPress µ | Spam prevention powered by Akismet