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Up and Coming Artist

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    Ricardo Levario stands with his two paintings that were accepted for publication in Creative Quarterly.
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    "Asphyxia" by Ricardo Levario
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    Ricardo Levario made this untitled painting by assembling 169 pieces of individually etched squares.
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    Ricardo Levario puts the final touches on his painting, "Asphyxia," in Southwestern's painting studio.

Southwestern student receives national recognition for his paintings


Ricardo Levario came to Southwestern planning to major in psychology and go to medical school. All that changed, however, when he took a drawing course the second semester of his first year. 

“I asked my professor, Star Varner, how you decide what your major should be and she told me you should pick whatever you are putting the most time into,” Levario recalls. “I spent 60 hours on one of my projects for the drawing class. I hardly ever read my biology or chemistry books.” 

Three years later, Levario is about to graduate from Southwestern with a degree in studio art and is receiving national recognition for his work.

Levario has had two large paintings accepted for publication in the summer 2009 issue of Creative Quarterly, a journal that highlights the best student and professional work in the areas of graphic design, photography, illustration and fine arts. One of Levario’s paintings received a silver award in the Student Fine Art category, and the other received a merit award in the same category.

Levario made the painting that is receiving the silver award by cutting panels made of compressed wood fibers into 6” x 6” squares. He applied a thin layer of oil paint to each square and then rubbed them with graphite so they would become dark. After that, he used a needle tool to draw lines on each square. The square at the center of the painting has no lines on it, but each surrounding ring of squares has four times as many lines as the squares inside it. In all, the piece has 169 squares, each etched by hand, and measures 78” x 78”. Levario said it took him about 120 hours over three weeks to complete it.

Although Levario said he was inspired to do the piece after reading a book about the universe, he said he decided to leave the piece untitled so viewers could interpret it for themselves. For example, he said, the piece could represent the expansion of space, or it could represent how things in nature start out as single cells and continuously multiply. 

Levario has worked on the painting that is receiving a merit award for a year and a half. The painting began as a project for a seminar class in which students were asked to develop a work that focused on beauty in contemporary art. 

“I looked at a plastic bag that was on my floor and fell in love with how the light hit it and all the folds in it,” he said. “I decided to make a painting out of it.” 

To make the painting, Levario worked from a photograph he took of plastic sheeting. He created a three-dimensional look for the two-dimensional oil painting by making the edges of the painting appear to come out, while the center recedes. “I wanted to make something beautiful slightly dangerous,” he explains. The resulting painting, which he titled “Asphyxia,” measures 44” x 72.”

Although he is very proud of his work, Levario said he had no idea what to expect when he submitted it to Creative Quarterly. “Before this, the only opinion I’ve had of my work has come from people on campus, and they were always very nice,” he said. “I was just amazed when I heard my work had been selected.” 

The upcoming recognition from Creative Quarterly is not the first recognition Levario has received for his work, however. In 2007, he was awarded a grant to attend the annual meeting of the American Association of Equine Practitioners in Orlando, Fla., where his medical illustrations were shown to an audience of more than 2,000 professional veterinarians. These illustrations were later published the Proceedings of the American Association of Equine Practitioners in 2007 and shown in 2008 at a conference of European veterinarians.

His work also was juried into “True To Form & Form Follows,” a graduate and undergraduate student exhibition held at Texas State University in San Marcos in conjunction with the Texas Sculpture Symposium in 2007.

At Southwestern’s Honors Convocation in February, Levario received the Bob Lancaster Award for the Outstanding Senior in Studio Art. 

Levario’s paintings, as well as several sculptures and drawings, will be on display in the Fine Arts Gallery at Southwestern March 25-April 3 as part of his senior exhibition titled “Liminal/Subliminal.” An opening reception for the show will be held March 26 from 4-6 p.m. All his work will be for sale after the exhibition. 

After graduating from Southwestern, Levario plans to take a year or two off and develop some new work. He would eventually like to attend graduate school and become an art professor.

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