February 11, 2020

University Museum is hosting ‘Fields and Figures’ art exhibit

by Jason Franchuk

CARBONDALE, Ill. — Local artist Mary Pachikara’s passion for art began in grade school.

Now 80, Pachikara recalls drawing in her notebooks instead of listening to her teachers in class. Her love of art never stopped for Pachikara, including over the 35 years of living in Southern Illinois and capturing what she saw in vivid watercolors. 

Pachikara is hosting her second solo exhibit, “Fields and Figures,” at the University Museum’s Mitchell Gallery. The opening reception is Feb. 21 from 4:30 to 8 p.m. Pachikara will discuss her watercolor works at 5:30 p.m. The exhibit runs through June 20.

“My inspirations are the beautiful Southern Illinois landscapes and people around me,” Pachikara said.

The exhibit includes 65 paintings that range from vibrant, to monochromatic and contemplative.

“What’s striking is Mary’s ability to convey such strong emotions and such a profound sense of place,” Wes Stoerger, the museum’s curator of exhibits, said. “I feel it will stir similar emotions in the audience.”

Stoking a childhood passion

When Pachikara was a young girl, her father gave her watercolor paints with two brushes. This only deepened her curiosity and enjoyment in art. In her adult years, she received a formal education in art at SIU's School of Art and Design.

One lesson she shared, “Compared to painting in oils which can be slow and deliberate, watercolor is spontaneous. It demands a higher degree of drawing skill. There is little room for error.”

But when it works, the result is much better than anticipated, she said.

Endless, magical local subject material

Pachikara moved to the Carbondale area when her late husband Punnoose, a surgeon, joined St. Joseph's Hospital in Murphysboro. She has been in the region over 40 years.

“I was so impressed by the beautiful lakes and farmlands,” she said. “I knew if we settled here, I’d have enough subject matter for the rest of my life. And I was right. For a landscape artist, this place is a mecca. It’s a beautiful, eternally changing area.”

Still prolific at age 80

That girl who doodled flowers in her notebooks never stopped doing so.

“Time flies when you are doing something you love to do,” Pachikara said.

A peek of the works you will see in Pachikara’s show is available at www.marypachikara.com.

Located in Faner Hall, University Museum is open Tuesday-Friday from 10 a.m. to 4 p.m. and on Saturdays from 1-4 p.m. The museum is closed on Sundays and Mondays.