Open Studio files: Aaron Eichorst

C-VILLE’s Spencer Peterson expands upon the week’s Open Studio interview with samples of the art by the artist he interviewed.

This week’s Open Studio is a chat with painter Aaron Eichorst, who in his recent works has pushed portraiture into the realm of the surreal. If you have kids at Greenbrier, Walker or Clark Elementary, they probably know him as their art teacher.

"Blackberry Lily and Hibiscus Bud"

"Blackberry Lily and Hibiscus Bud" is part of a larger series in which Eichorst uses pastel, tempera and acrylic paint to render his friends as human/flora hybrids. Seeing these pieces, it comes as no surprise that he’s a fan of Giuseppe Arcimboldo, a 16th century Italian court painter whose portrait heads made entirely of things like produce, fish or books were largely ignored until they were rediscovered by the Surrealists.


A fortuitous trip to Italy led Eichorst to his latest series, which he describes as an attempt to confront us with our cultural history. "Santuary" is his favorite from one of many takes on the Ancient Roman Grotesque, a decorative style of fresco that, back in its classical heyday, featured human figures surrounded by architectural and natural embellishments. Like the other contemporary locals enshrined in Eichorst’s Grotesques, this green-eyed girl has stare that reveals as much about her as it does your own status as an onlooker. Whether it’s natural or historical, for Eichorst, juxtaposition creates meaning.

When he talks about his work, Eichorst is refreshingly pragmatic and sober. Check out the rest of his oeuvre at to see how his work ethic pays off, or head over to the Gleason Building, where he will have three pieces up through July.


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