Today we are celebrating Black artists in the MCC Art Gallery’s permanent collection featuring the work Butterfly no. 6, an aquatint etching dating to 1971 created by the prolific printmaker, art professor and philosopher, Emeritus Marion A. Epting. Epting has described his own work as “perpetual alternation of opposites [or] simultaneous coexistence of opposites…appears in almost everything I do.” An impactful period of his life that sparked this outlook is when he was asked to teach a course on African Art at Chico State. Epting’s viewed his appointment at that time as being related the idea that “I was Black.” He explains the connection to his own work, “I am concerned with the play of opposites: opposites which are not conflicting or competing, but complementary as necessary parts of the whole. I believe in the simultaneous coexistence of opposites. This idea has persisted for so long and has been perpetuated by so many civilizations that is the closest thing to a ‘truth’ that I know. Lao Tzu, Marx, Freud, Levi-Strauss, and the majority of Saharan African cultures all incorporated this concept into their beliefs.” Impacted by the experience, Epting’s interests in physics, algebra, philosophy, and art became merged. Epting became the first Black tenure-track professor at Chico State in 1969, and while serving as Chair of the art department and member of the Academic Senate he was revered for creating a thriving Black community among students, staff, and faculty at Chico State.
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