Shifting Ground: Exhibition at Brooks Center showcases Clemson alumna

Shifting Ground: Exhibition at Brooks Center showcases Clemson alumna

by Thomas Hudgins

Hilary Siber HeadshotThe seeds of Hilary Siber’s love for art and landscape were planted early. As a child in Ohio, Siber remembers drawing trees and solving jigsaw puzzles. Flash-forward several years, and she found herself exercising those same artistic muscles pursuing a degree in architectural design at the Maryland Institute College of Art. “I was fortunate enough to work in the design field for several years after graduation,” Siber said, “but visual problem solving soon became a puzzle that pulled me toward creating fine art. I am forever challenged by the visual mode of communication. It seems to elude language while simultaneously creating a new one.” She enrolled in Clemson’s Master of Fine Arts program in the art department. There, she “began to understand that creating paintings is two-fold: I am putting a puzzle together while presenting one to my viewers.”

Those artistic puzzles will be on display with her new exhibition, Shifting Ground, presented by the Clemson University Center for Visual Arts in the lobby of the Brooks Center for the Performing Arts this fall, from Tuesday, September 8, through Friday, December 4.

HilarySiberSmoke and Mirrors

Shifting Ground opens on the heels of Siber’s thesis exhibition, which, she said, “reflected on the grief and emotion of the death of my father.” In contrast, this oil-on-canvas collection focuses on “universal landscapes that suggest unknown outcomes, unstable grounds, and shifting panoramas.” Her landscapes are not literal, but rather subjective interpretations that she believes “model accurate representations of the rational and irrational landscapes of our emotions, experiences, and intellect.”

Siber’s work has been exhibited both regionally and internationally: at the Piccolo Spoleto Festival in Charleston, the Nelson Gallery in in Lexington, Virginia, and the Art Museum of Nanjing University in China, not to mention several others in South Carolina and North Carolina.

Susan Kaplar, Business Manager at the Brooks Center and current B.F.A. student, has admired Siber’s work for a while. She and Denise Woodward-Detrich, Director of the Lee Gallery, approached Siber several months ago with the idea of a solo exhibition in the Brooks Center Lobby. Kaplar was first drawn to Siber’s work when she and Woodward-Detrich put together an exhibition for the Brooks Center last year. “We’ve seen her style and we thought anything she does will be a good fit for our audience,” Kaplar said. The exhibition includes art works created since January, including two pieces originally from her master’s thesis exhibition and now on loan from private collections.

When patrons attend the exhibition, Kaplar hopes it will be a time for deep self-reflection. “I hope it will encourage people to look within themselves, to engage in inner contemplation.” Siber’s wish is that people see an opportunity to consider both the here-and-now and the everlasting. “I hope that viewing these paintings conjures up a consideration for the temporal. Perhaps by contemplating our finitude and flux, we are more apt to consider what is infinite and never-changing.”

Shifting Ground is open from 1 to 5 p.m. on weekdays and before all Brooks Center performances. An artist talk will be held before the 7:30 p.m. performance of National Dance Company of Siberia on Thursday, October 29, at 6 p.m., followed by a reception at 6:30 pm. For more information, contact Susan Kaplar at (864) 656-7951 or

Images: Top – When a Body Breaks; Bottom – Smoke and Mirrors. Both oil on canvas.

Thomas Hudgins is director of marketing and communications for the Brooks Center for Performing Arts at Clemson University.