The latest exhibit in the Fine Arts Building, “Meditation & Metaphor”, features the impressive works of Steve Teeters, a local artist who attended South Plains College decades ago.
Teeters unfortunately passed away in 2014, but his wife, LaGina Fairbetter, worked with former Gallery Director Julia Whiteside to give students a chance to be inspired by a successful graduate of SPC. The gorgeous paintings that always line the walls of the art gallery struggle not to be overshadowed by Teeters’ work, which always uses three-dimensional space that helps engage the viewer.
Teeters uses miscellaneous found objects in his work, such as limbs of dolls, antique clocks and decades-old poster art, in his sculptures. These objects add intrigue and a sense of historical value to his work. But upon inspection, it’s clear to see the placement of these objects isn’t always just random, but thematic.
Teeters used his work to convey his thoughts regarding human nature, society and the passage of time, burying these thoughts in subtle metaphor. Whiteside, the former gallery director responsible for the exhibit, knew Teeters while he was alive, and students who are interested may request a walkthrough of the exhibit with her when she isn’t busy for some insight into his style and metaphor.
“He is one of the most creative and productive artists I’ve known,” Whiteside said.
Found objects accent the sculptures well, but the heart of Teeters’ work is the well-crafted metals he created himself. After his start as a glassblower, Teeters moved on to metalworking, where he found immense success. The horses in Lubbock’s McKenzie Park, the pieces in front of the Wells Fargo Amphitheater and the large iconic glasses outside of the Buddy Holly Center are all works by Teeters. He also helped start the First Friday Art Trail in Lubbock, and taught art classes for many years. Comments sections of articles regarding the artist’s passing are littered with praise from his former students.
Teeters later opened up his own foundry, Texas Brass, which allowed him to manipulate metal to do exactly as he wanted. But beyond found objects, Teeters almost always incorporated a myriad of other materials into his work, pushing many of his sculptures out of the metal category and into the mixed media category. Boats supported by wheels, jars filled with pictures preserved in cottonseed oil, metal books and cast metal objects are things students can expect to see when visiting the gallery.
Some pieces have an antique feel, and some have a morbid tone. Others have a rustic mood about them, and still others even have a bit of steampunk aesthetic. Very little space is wasted on the walls and the floor, with pieces taller than some students and some small enough to be stepped on. Students need to be careful navigating past the boats and pedestals while also being respectful toward them by not touching or accidentally leaning against any of them.
The variety found in the messages, mediums, shapes and sizes of Teeters’ works makes for a gallery that is completely original and thought provoking. The use of depth and disregard for symmetry make each piece unique. Walking around one to see how perspective toys with it is fascinating.
Typically, the gallery is peaceful and quiet. Students intending to see it for themselves have a good chance of getting the whole room to themselves. I recommend students interested in the arts take a small chunk out of their day to go while it lasts. Teeters’ artistic contributions to West Texas speak for themselves, and some of that famous talent will only grace the Levelland campus for a few more months.
The “Meditation & Metaphor” exhibit will be open until August 16. Occasionally, the exhibit may be closed to protect the pieces inside when staff aren’t watching it, but it may be opened upon request. There is no charge for admissions and the limited room in the gallery makes for a quick, enlightening visit.