Iowa Central displays works of local artist

The artwork of Fort Dodge native Madai Taylor is the subject of an exhibit at Iowa Central Community College.

In September, Taylor was named one of Iowa Central’s distinguished alumni.

“He was an Iowa Central student who then transferred to Buena Vista,” Maureen Seamonds, humanities professor, said. “I had known Madai for many years, but I hadn’t always known about that connection. It was exciting for me, because that’s really nice for our students to know about, that someone has gone on. It’s nice for us to be able to show our students there’s life after school, especially because Madai is local.”

Taylor, founder of AGAPE Church, expresses himself on canvas through the medium of earth.

“That’s a technique I use to take soil and treat it like a paint, make changes to make it in a painterly style, and do various things with it like draw in it, scratch in it, paint with it to create my images, to create the art,” Taylor said.

Taylor said he has two approaches in pursuing his art.

“One is, my spirit inspires me to create a piece. And the other way is, I have an inner vision of something I see within myself I want to try to express,” he said. “The spirit inspires me to do what I do. I just feel inspired to do it, not always understanding visually what is going to materialize, but because I’m inspired to do it, many times or much of the time, it’s something I think is provocative and interesting.”

The medium, Taylor said, came from his interest in looking at art and its creation from different perspectives.

“I didn’t want to create it or continue to create like everyone else, using the traditional types of mediums, so I like to say I came into this through a divine kind of thing,” he said. “I think it was more God-led than anything, but I’ve been experimenting with different media for quite some time. I used to use rust, and I moved from rust to the earth.”

He added, “It’s been a progress.”

Seamonds said she is touched by Taylor’s art.

“I have several of his pieces, and they’re very enjoyable to live with because you always find something new in them,” she said. “As they hang on the wall, they seem to change. The message he brings to it is a little spiritual and it is very much expressive and connected to his experience. They feel good to look at. It reminds me of the earth in a way that’s tangible.”

Rusty Farrington, an Iowa Central assistant humanities professor, admires Taylor’s progress, he said.

“He’s gone from the collage and the bits of paint, and he began working with applied rust,” Farrington said. “He would lay a metal piece on the surface of the paper and transfer that iron oxide to the paper. Little bits of color came back into that. This is really a natural extension of that, looking for the color of the earth and using that to express a personal point of view.”

Seamonds described the artwork as academically intriguing because it played with the formal qualities of art.

“These are the tools artists have. We have line and shape and color and texture and pattern, and what do you do with that? You repeat it, you balance it. You create focal points. We talk about rhythm and repetition,” she said. “All those kinds of things are a part of artwork, but they’re really absolutely well-done in his work. On an academic level, you can really appreciate that he knows how to do this.”

Taylor said he hopes audiences will find his work provocative.

“I think people will have a reaction simply because of the medium itself, because the medium is earth and I think people respond to earth knowingly and unknowingly,” he said. “It is such a part of who they are and a part of every day life, so when you see it in an artistic expression I think it does, in its own way, strike people in a curious way.”

Taylor will have more art next year as he pursues his ambitions.

“I’m going to continue to work, doing what I’m doing. At this moment, I’m embarking on a trip to Israel next year to create a body of work from the historical landmarks or historical sites, different places in Israel. I’m going to stay there for a while, and make art,” he said. “I’m working with the art council hopefully to find the resources to get the job done.”

Taylor’s artwork will be exhibited at Iowa Central Community College’s Decker Auditorium through Oct. 30.