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AQ ArtPrize Artist: Nathan Lareau

By: Darcy Vines ‘16

Published on

Art by Nathan Lareau

Nathan Lareau ’05 has combined his passion for music and the rhythm of the world with his artistic talent to create his piece titled “Urban Tumbleweed,” which has earned him a place in the Public Vote Final 20 for ArtPrize 2014.

Lareau, who is currently on staff at Aquinas in the art department, cites his time as a student at Aquinas as extremely influential in his success as an artist.

“I began my studies at Aquinas as a music major, studying percussion and jazz,” said Lareau. “I was mentored by the late, great percussionist and educator Rupert Kettle, and current director of instrumental studies, Dr. Paul Brewer. Through Kettle I was exposed to avant-garde composers, and through my jazz studies with Brewer I began to realize a whole different way of approaching music, an improvisational method which allowed for instant translation of sensual observation into a musical language.”

From his work in music, Lareau began to take visual art classes, including those involving sculpture, printmaking, and new forms. He fell in love with the connections between rhythm and visual art, which led to the work that he does today.

“I investigated these connections by building non-conventional instruments out of sculptural materials such as wood and steel, and by using new media like video to combine the audio/visual elements within music and visual art,” said Lareau.

“I then continued these interests and approaches in my graduate studies at Ohio University where I began to create the work I make presently, work that searches for musical elements in the physical world and how they can be used to create audio/visual compositions.”

That technique of translating sensory detail in the world around us into music is precisely what Lareau’s piece for ArtPrize focuses on this year. “Urban Tumbleweed” is a moving sculpture, located at Cathedral Square, “designed to capture the rhythms created as it traverses a variety of terrain. It uses landscape as a musical score, similar to playing the earth like a record,” said Lareau.

After his time at Ohio University, Lareau is happy to return home to the Aquinas community, which has supported him and helped to guide his learning.

“I am so grateful to have received such a well-rounded education and to have been a part of such a supportive and challenging environment as I did here at Aquinas College,” said Lareau. “I am extremely excited to have returned to Grand Rapids and Aquinas in this new capacity to teach in the art department and once again be a part of this great community.”

“Urban Tumbleweed” will be on display through the end of ArtPrize 2014 on October 12. Public voting for the Final 20 closes at 11:59 p.m. on October 9.