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Look for Fibonacci Sequence in artist Larry Schulte’s exhibit
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Look for Fibonacci Sequence in artist Larry Schulte’s exhibit

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Larry Schulte

Larry Schulte talked about his work before an artist’s reception at the Walker Gallery on Friday. An exhibit, featuring his work, continues on display through Oct. 21.

KEARNEY — Artist Larry Schulte notes two areas of interest that influenced his work.

“One of them is nature,” he said during an interview at an artist’s reception. “Growing up on a farm and seeing the cycles of nature, those cycles that happen over and over again, influenced me. Another is the Fibonacci Sequence. When I was teaching mathematics, one of the things I taught them was this sequence because it shows up everywhere in nature. Everything that is in a spiral is based on the Fibonacci Sequence.”

The sequence — a series of numbers when added with a number below it in value — produce a spiral when plotted on a graph. The numbers 1+12, followed by 1+23; 3+58; 8+513; 13+8 21.

“Fibonacci Sequence is the numbers 1, 1, 2, 3, 5, 8, 13, 21 and so on,” Schulte said. “The next number is always the sum of the previous two numbers. My first degree from Kearney State College was in mathematics and I taught math for a while. When I started painting, mathematics just crept in.”

The result of the combination between math and art can be seen in an exhibit, “Larry Schulte: Two Worlds of Larry Schulte,” currently on display at the Walker Art Gallery in the Art Building on the University of Nebraska at Kearney campus through Oct. 21. The show features Schulte’s large-scale painted woven works and a series of smaller works created by weaving pages from large format art books.

Admission to the show is free.

The show is presented by UNK Art & Design.

Matt Ziemke, director of the Walker Art Gallery, talked about the layers waiting to be explored in the artwork.

“I think people should look for something in this show that moves them,” he said. “Why do we see art but to have something revealed to us? I think there is a lot in Larry’s art to be revealed. There are layers to be explored and the work is really labor intensive — and you can see it. You can really be amazed at the process if you’re into process. And you can appreciate color and texture. There is a lot to glean from it.”

Ziemke appreciates the opportunity to see and display the work of Schulte.

“To see it in person is really special because you can really see how all these paintings have been cut apart and woven together,” he said. “You can see the real depth he’s been able to achieve by his process. There’s a lot of ‘Larry’ in the work.”

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For Schulte, combining two areas of his artwork made perfect sense.

“There are two bodies of work, which is why it’s called ‘Two Worlds,’” he said of the show.

After creating the paintings, Schulte cut the paper into widths determined by the Fibonacci Sequence, something he has worked with for 50 years.

“The other body of work are these smaller pieces which are pages taken out of a book, and then sewn on with a sewing machine,” he said. “I cut them up an used them as collage elements.”

He calls that section of the show “COVID pages” since he worked on them after the pandemic shutdowns. Schulte lost access to his studio in March 2020 and began to work at home.

“I was no longer going to my studio as of March of last year,” he said. “I had to work at home and I had to work smaller since I didn’t have the space like I had in my studio. So I did a series of 100 of those pieces, 25 of which are in this exhibit.”

Born in Kearney in 1949, Schulte grew up on a farm near Pleasanton. After studying math and art, the artist received his MS in art education from Kearney State College. He later got his PhD from the University of Kansas. He spent decades living and working in New York City and currently lives with his husband in Albuquerque, N.M.

In considering the relationship between art and math, Schulte understands the power of both.

“My first paintings were landscapes,” he said. “And then the Fibonacci Sequence began to sneak in when I was doing my master’s degree here. I have this landscape and I’m extracting it, but how do I also build in this mathematical structure? It was all about nature, to start with.”

Schulte refined his process, over five decades, to the type of work on display at the Walker Gallery. With a knowledge of the Fibonacci Structure, he believes that viewers can find it in many places in nature.

“You begin to not just see it, but you begin to look for it,” he said. “Around the turn of the last century, in the 1900s, there was a group called the Fibonacci Society that did just that; they went around to see where the numbers showed up in nature.”


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