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home : news : news Monday, December 18, 2017

6/8/2011 Email this articlePrint this article 
Quad-Cities native Amy Nielsen is the latest artist to have her work featured at the First Central Gallery in the lobby of the Operahouse Theatre in downtown DeWitt. Nielsen is a calligraphic artist who specially created this “Crossroads to Opportunity” piece for her DeWitt exhibit. An open house enabling residents to meet Nielsen will be held Sunday, June 26, 4:30-6 p.m. at the Operahouse. Photo by Kate Howes
Calligraphic pieces on display at First Central Gallery

By Kate Howes
Staff writer

Area residents are invited to come see the work of Quad City artist Amy Nielsen at the First Central Gallery in the lobby of the Operahouse Theatre in downtown DeWitt.

Nielsen's display includes illustrated calligraphy, in which she says she uses tight illustrations, precise calligraphy and illumination along with very abstract splashes of color and controlled blocks of color.

A resident of Port Byron, Ill., Nielsen describes herself as a life-long artist and understands calligraphy may not be something people expect to see hanging in a museum.

"Some people think calligraphy is more a craft than an art form," she relates. "I try to show it's art as much as anything else. I like for people to look at my pieces and think, 'That is art.'"

Someone who greatly influenced Nielsen's interest in and ability for calligraphic art was Father Edward M. Catich, who in addition to being a priest, scholar, artist and teacher, also is the founder of the St. Ambrose University Art Department and noted as one of the world's finest calligraphers.

She met Catich her junior year at St. Ambrose when she took a calligraphy course. Nielsen's father had Catich as an economics instructor while studying at the university and warned her Catich could be rather cantankerous, to say the least.

Nevertheless, Nielsen found him to be very wise and extremely talented, not just as a calligrapher, but also as a teacher.

"(Catich) used to call calligraphy 'sweat between the ears,'" she says with a smile. "Constant practice helps one check themselves with techniques and skills."

As a teacher herself - Nielsen is calligraphy adjunct at St. Ambrose and an invited instructor at the Davenport Museum of Art, the Figge Art Museum and several other community colleges and continuing education venues - Nielsen finds she still uses the same methods she learned under Catich.

"Teaching helps me not only see the world and the calligraphic art form through the eyes of others," she relates, "but also to define and practice the art of calligraphy, each facet that I was taught and use in my own artwork over and over again."

Inspired both by nature and the words people use to express their feelings and frustrations, Nielsen says she reinterprets quotations into visual expressions using her love for nature and words to express yet another world.

"I see a quotation and imagine how I could design and depict it in a visual form to add impact to the spoken message," Nielsen explains.

Those who view her art, she adds, often value it because - for one reason or another - it "speaks" to them.

"My customers do not buy my work only because they appreciate the artistic design, but for the message meaning something special to them in their lives.

Her career includes designing and illustrating cards for Hallmark, leading artistic efforts for an advertising company as well as Plus 60 Magazine. Nielsen also was one of the first computer graphics artists as the creative director for Video Times.

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