About 25 students, faculty and community members attended a catered reception welcoming Eric Gansworth, the newest artist in residence for the Arne Nixon Center for the Study of Children’s Literature in University Dining on March 18.
At the hour-long reception, Gansworth told a few anecdotes about living on the reservation, showed some of his visual art from his website, explained the meaning behind the works and read a few poetry pieces.
Gansworth is a writer and visual artist who was raised at the Tuscarora Nation, a small American Indian reservation with a population of only 1,100 people. His works of fiction, poetry and paintings are inspired by his life raised on the periphery, meaning on the outside of mainstream society, Gansworth said.
His art is a way for him to embrace the life he lived, both “the flaws and the richness,” Gansworth said.
As a recipient of the Arne Nixon Center artist in residence fellowship, Gansworth received a $10,000 stipend and a paid weeklong visit to Fresno from March 18-22, according to a news release.
During his week on campus, Ganworth was integrated into English, education and American Indian studies classes.
Some of his visual art includes a series titled “Give Me Some Truth,” named after the famous John Lennon song. The series consists of reimagined Beatles and Lennon album covers with traditional American Indian styled art.
Much of Gansworth’s visual work contains the image of honey bees to signify his fascination with cross-pollination of cultures, he said.
Although from a small, tight-knit community, Gansworth said he has felt much support in his artistic endeavors. When he had trouble getting published, he said he nearly gave up.
On Sunday nights after doing his laundry, he Gansworth said he irons his clothes and tells himself stories from his past. If he wanted to give up, he would still be telling himself those stories, he said.
“I might as well write them down,” Gansworth said. “It’s what I love to do.”