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Grandmother's quiltwork inspires artist

Jason Wilson's grandmother grew up on a homestead in southeast Oklahoma that he only ever knew as "the old place." 

"There was a tire swing, a well to draw water from, water in a stainless steel pitcher with a medal ladle to drink water. There was no bathroom inside the house, instead we would go to the outhouse. She cooked in a stove that was heated by wood and on that stove there was always a pot of beans," Wilson said.

It was there that his grandmother learned to create the quilts that would later inspire Wilson's art. On Saturday, Wilson will bring that quilt-inspired art to the Leslie Powell Gallery for the opening of his show "Hardline." Wilson's work will be on display at the gallery through June 29.

Wilson became fascinated with his grandmother's quilt work from a young age.

"This was the spark that influenced my art," Wilson said. "As a young child, I just remember seeing these large creations suspended from the ceiling by a rope attached to each corner of the quilt she was working on at that time. I remember her cutting pieces and assembling them into her work. As the quilt developed, I was always amazed at the patterns, but particularly the 3D looking pieces."

Inspired by the patchwork designs on those quilts, Wilson immersed himself in the world of perceptual art, creating colorful and complex geometric patterns. Perceptual art, according to Wilson, is about how the observer interacts with the shapes and colors in a particular piece.

"I want to provoke a reaction from the viewer," Wilson said. "It's interesting to me what people see, and how often people see something different than what another person sees. I have learned to let each painting stand on its own, because sometimes people see in them something much better than what I had planned." 

The way each individual brings his or her own interpretation to the canvas is what draws Wilson to perceptual art.

"There's so much room for exploration in each of my paintings, and I work hard to eliminate distractions that might detract from this exploration."

One of the ways that Wilson cuts down on distractions in his painting is through meticulous planning. While he claims that math was his worst subject in school, one wouldn't know it from the intricate steps he takes as he prepares each piece. 

"I start by developing my paintings on grid paper to scale. After I have the concept on the grid paper, I draw it on the canvas using precise measurements and rulers. After the drawing is finished, I use a masking technique that took me years to perfect. I use acrylic paint, but I have a formula combining heavy body acrylics with student grade acrylics. I do this to obtain an ultra-smooth finish and eliminate brush strokes," Wilson said.

Beyond their symmetry, Wilson's works also stand out for their vibrant colors.

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