The Center at Maple Grove maybe located at a cemetery but it is alive with the arts this Fall due to an opera performance, the exhibition of work by Queens-based artist Eric Horn, and other cultural events. On October 19, the arrayed will give a speech between 6pm and 7:30pm where he discusses his work and its inspiration.
“Portraits of Philosophy” is the title the exhibition which comments the progress of Western philosophy through twenty-four pieces of original art. Eric Scott Horn is a long-time resident of Kew Gardens, Queens. He studied ancient and intellectual history at Dickinson College; and has attended archaeological field schools and worked on excavations on several sites around the Mediterranean Sea. These pursuits have greatly influenced his paintings, particularly the two series of acrylic works “Portraits of Philosophy” and “Across Ancient Sands” which shares its title with a novel and an epic poem.
Eric Horn recently discussed his art and upcoming exhibition via an exclusive interview.
Meagan Meehan (MM): When did you first discover your love for art and how did you find your style and preferred mediums?
Eric Horn (EH): Like most kids, I started drawing with crayons and pencils when I was around four years old. I guess the difference is that I drew quite a lot and never really stopped. As I grew older, I started writing too and most of my drawings were either done in comic form or as illustrations of my short stories. Sometime in high school I switched over to painting and that has been my passion since. However, I have dabbled in other mediums. I made a 40 square foot castle out of stone; I made a human sculpture out of bottles, cans, aluminum foil and wax; and a landscape out of melted colored wax.
MM: What is it about history and philosophy that intrigue you enough to put them in your
EH: I have been fascinated with history since I was very young. I think a lot of that has to do with my parents taking us on trips to other countries and that passion for history always stayed with me. I was a history major in college and after that I volunteered on five archaeological excavations around the Mediterranean Sea. I started learning about philosophy through my history classes and then it just took on a life of its own. Since I graduated (way too many years ago) I have continued reading both history and philosophy and it’s just become a part of me. I love the connections between different historical events and how ideas cross over from one thinker to another. Philosophy in particular is like a series of intricate puzzles that I get to unwrap through my artwork.
MM: What inspires your work and do you have a personal favorite?
EH: There must be a touch of masochism in my process because I generally come up with a concept that I know is going to be incredibly difficult to carry out and then I layer on a couple extra hurdles for myself to clear before I’m finished. For the main piece in my exhibit I decided I was going to paint sixteen portraits of different philosophers throughout history, each in a style based on their overall philosophy. That was very trying but the result was wonderful and I have absolutely loved looking at it for the last seven years. As I was getting farther along on that painting, I started to get nervous that I was going to choke but I actually got better as I went along. I think my other two favorites are the illustrations of my book “Across Ancient Sands.” I made them in the style of a wall frieze (pictures on stone blocks). Each block has a picture of the journey around the Mediterranean Sea at the end of the Bronze Age with caption in the local language. The protagonist comes across Biblical figures, heroes from the Trojan War, the last great Pharaoh, and other historical and literary figures.
MM: How did you get the opportunity to exhibit at The Center at Maple Grove?
EH: Luck had a lot to do with it. I asked someone I knew who is heavily involved in the local art scene if she knew of a place where could show some of my paintings. She found out the same day that Maple Grove had room for two more paintings at an exhibit they were setting up a few weeks later. Once I got my foot in the door, they loved the paintings I displayed so much that they wanted to give me my own personal exhibit filling their gallery space and here we are.
MM: What can guests expect from your exhibition?
EH: Except for the illustrations for “Across Ancient Sands,” none of the other paintings resemble each other. I try to make each piece unique so there is definitely a wide variety in style. I think the only real commonality is that I tend to use either bright colors or light colors on dark backgrounds. Also, every work is either tied to” Portraits of Philosophy” or “Across Ancient Sands.”
MM: What are your biggest goals for the future and what is coming up next for you?
EH: I still have another eight individual paintings that I would like to complete for the entire “Portraits of Philosophy” series. Once I finish those paintings, I will try to set up another exhibit with the full collection. I plan on writing a tabletop book around “Portraits of Philosophy.” I am also currently working with an editor on a new version of Across Ancient Sands. Those projects and my day job should keep me busy but one day I do hope to go on an archaeological excavation in Mongolia and sleep in a yurt. So maybe that will be on the horizon.
MM: Is there anything else that you would like to mention?
EH: Anyone interested in seeing my paintings or reaching out to me can do so on Instagram @ericscotthornart.
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The event is held at The Center at Maple Grove at 127-15 Kew Gardens Road, Kew Gardens, NY. To learn more, see here: