100518-art-Art and Soul image

Like many of Timothy Wagner’s works, the one shown here, entitled Introduction, calls to mind the concept of the psychopomp.

Although at a glance that term seemingly refers to a lunatic with delusions of grandeur, psychopomp actually describes something of an ectoplasmic chaperone, an entity tasked with leading the newly dead to the afterlife. The concept (subsequently appropriated by the über-influential Swiss psychologist Carl Jung) dates from antiquity, wherein it often involved avians of all sorts.

Introduction was hand built and inspired by the spiritual animal, the owl,” Wagner relates of the 24-inch-square mixed-media canvas created earlier this year. “I see the owl as a symbol of a messenger, a guide to the spiritual world. My work reflects a subject that has been incorporated in the arts for thousands of years.”

From Wagner’s online portfolio, additional bird-based artwork of his involves other owls, hawks, a hummingbird, a dove and – aptly enough, given the species’ prominence in cemeteries – a peacock. (One work also involves a reindeer – another common incarnation of the psychopomp.) Like Introduction, those additional pieces of art feature great linear detail, evidencing considerable attention to the natural loveliness of avian anatomy, as well as an almost oneiric feel, as if they were impinging on the waking world from the precincts of dream.

“My work is created on a meditative, subconscious level,” the Richmond Heights artist says. “Every layer is constructed with reclaimed material, paper and a variety of media. The images are drawn up from found imagery and are either superimposed or blended into the surface.

“My creative purpose of using reclaimed materials is to bring attention to the environment and how wildlife is affected, while tying in the spiritual aspect of birds, which can often be overlooked in our everyday life.”

Readers intrigued by Introduction and interested in viewing the actual canvas and other works by Wagner can do so by visiting an alumni art exhibition opening at Ladue Horton Watkins High School at 6 p.m. on Friday, Oct. 5, and running till Dec. 14, he notes. 

To learn more about our featured artist, visit tewagner.com.

St. Louis-area artists who wish to be considered for future installments of this monthly department of Ladue News should email inquiries to bhollerbach@laduenews.com with “Art and Soul” in the subject line.

Bryan A. Hollerbach serves as LN's copy editor and one of its staff writers. He loves to read, write, impersonate an amateur artist and research all things bibulous.