By MATT ELLIOTT
Less than one year after Claudia Emerson, associate professor of English, made headlines by earning the Pulitzer Prize for her book of poetry, “Late Wife,” another University of Mary Washington professor has earned acclaim of his own. Mary Washington adjunct art instructor, Scott Ligon, recently opened his exhibit, “Painting by Numbers: Digital Works by Scott Ligon” in the duPont Gallery on College Avenue.
“Painting by Numbers” features digital artwork by Ligon that he painted on a computer using a graphics tablet and stylus (a pencil-like controller that acts like a paint brush). The exhibit kicked off with an opening reception last Thursday, Jan. 25, in the University’s duPont Gallery. Many patrons, both Mary Washington students and local Fredericksburg residents, came and perused through the exhibit, while Ligon, a Mary Washington alumnus himself, answered their questions and humbly received their congratulations.
“I think people might have the perception of digital art as being cold or machine-like and I’d like people to see how organic it is…the possibilities are really limitless,” Ligon said about his craft.
Ligon’s work has been exhibited at the John F. Kennedy Center for the Performing Arts and his other alma mater, the Maryland Institute College of Art.
Thursday’s reception culminated with Ligon’s screening of his short animated film, “Escape Velocity,” which explores the connection between Attention Deficit Hyperactivity Disorder (ADHD) and creativity. “Painted” in the style of his digital paintings and edited in an impulsive, ADD-like fashion, the film is autobiographical, so Ligon found motivation in his own life, specifically when he discovered that his son was diagnosed with ADHD.
“I don’t like referring to ADHD as a disability…in fact, I believe there are enabling benefits to ADD,” said Ligon about the Disorder.
Ligon admits that he too lives with ADD (the terms ADD and ADHD are often used interchangeably), and this type of honesty rings true throughout his film as he unabashedly pokes fun at himself with humorous rhetoric.
“Escape Velocity” has won a trophy case full of awards and acclamation including “Best Experimental Film” at the USA Film Festival. The film has been shown at numerous film festivals all over the globe and is scheduled to be shown at least once a week at future film festivals throughout the country. The film attracted so much attention, in fact, that Shorts International, the largest distributor of short films in the world, signed a deal with Ligon to distribute it on DVD and eventually on iTunes.
The warmth, gentle nature and profound creativity of Ligon, however, serve as the centerpiece of the exhibit. In fact, after the screening, Ligon offered to give away copies of the movie on DVD to everyone who attended the screening. Ligon successfully provides a window into his own mind and heart through his multi-layered artwork. Ligon teaches digital art and design classes and frequently lectures on the subjects of creativity, filmmaking, and digital fine art.
To find out more about Ligon and his artwork, go to ligon-art.com. The DVD of “Escape Velocity” will soon available from Shorts International and information pertaining to its release is also available at his Web site.