Professor Nathan Huff channels cosmic wonder in “The Stories We Tell Ourselves”


Photo courtesy Nathan Huff

Professor Nathan Huff’s exhibition “The Stories We Tell Ourselves” is on display at the Sullivan Goss gallery in downtown Santa Barbara until September 23.

Luke Spicer, Staff Writer

The sea: dark royal blue currents of waves twisting here and there, reflecting the bright fiery gold and orange stars in the purple night sky. Sails puffed up full of wind, carrying a small wooden boat through the ocean hundreds of times over. Loose patterns that occur over and over again but never quite perfectly repeat. A dream.

These words describe yet do not capture the essence of “Lumens and Ladders,” one of Professor Nathan Huff’s new paintings on display as part of “The Stories We Tell Ourselves” collection at the Sullivan Goss gallery in downtown Santa Barbara. This collection exlusively features drawings, paintings, sculptures, and more, from Westmont’s own Professor Nathan Huff (in fact, this single artist collection is the first of its kind at Sullivan Goss).

All of Huff’s work on display demonstrates a sense of cosmic wonder, often featuring the appearance of stars in places where one would least expect. “Skies and Schisms,” another one of Huff’s paintings, features stars breaking through mid day clouds onto an oak tree. This painting, alongside several others, connect to Huff’s central title, in that they break through the simplistic layers of one’s mundane life to display the glorious and colorful universe that exists at all times and in all places.

Professor Huff came to Westmont in 2013 to accept the position as the Assistant Professor of the Arts, having received a MFA in Drawing and Painting from CSU Long Beach and an undergraduate degree in Art Education from Azusa Pacific University. His work has been featured in numerous galleries across the country, and also in publications such as the Huffington Post and Artillery Magazine. Professor Huff is currently on sabbatical, a time which no doubt inspired him in his most recent pieces on display within the gallery.

Huff describes his artwork as “freewheeling narratives,” paintings and sculptures that are “personal stories of suspending gravity,” reaching far back into the subconscious to weave together “reservoirs of memory.” It is through this unique lens of observing the universe that Huff can create these works of explorations of “the gaps between visual perception and modes of representation,” filling a canvas with an explosion of light and color.

Huff’s art encourages the viewer to look beyond the often two-dimensional perception of the world to engage and behold the vast and beautiful universe that exists at all times and all places. With this attention to the greater universe, perhaps the entrapping problems and narratives are not so binding at all when compared with the infinite glory of the cosmos. Though some would label this experience as some form of escapism from reality, it is instead the actual experience of reality as fully intended: wonderful, vast, and painted by the hands of the greatest artist of all, God.

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