Art show, “Leave the Light On,” features Viterbo professor’s talents

Jessica Schneider, Campus Life Editor

 Kira Peters’ art show, “Leave the Light On,” is currently on display on the third floor of the Fine Arts Center. The show is running until October 29, every weekday from 9 a.m. to 4 p.m. The free exhibit features a collection of oil paintings from the over ten years Peters has been creating art. 

The title, Peters explains, is a reference to a time in her life when she frequently traveled between Minneapolis and La Crosse—a time when the idea that “nowhere felt like home” weighed on her. A clear sense of home wasn’t always there, but her friends and family were lights in the darkness. A close friend once assured her, “You don’t really have a home, but you have a lot of couches you can sleep on.” This idea of an intangible home is clearly shown in the exhibit, as most pieces are paintings of household items that inspire a familiar, almost nostalgic feeling in the viewer.  

One section of the exhibit is dedicated to these household items and showcases a technique called “alla prima.” This style is a “wet on wet” technique, where the artist has a limited time to rough out the shapes and colors of the piece with thick oil paints. Peters likes this technique, saying it allows her to let go of the need to control, and let the artistry flow. These pieces only take two to four hours to make, serving as fast practice for the artist. 

 Sometimes, she takes those smaller alla prima paintings and builds a larger piece around them. A specific pair of glasses, featured in its own alla prima piece, shows up in one of the largest paintings, titled “Afternoon Light”—though now upside down and cast in shadows. Dried pieces of coral make several appearances throughout the exhibit, as do wilting flowers in clear vases. The subjects of Peters’ art reflect a familiar time in quarantine and isolation—Lysol wipes and snow out the window—but in a new light that shows the beauty in the mundane. Peters says that these pieces tend to take anywhere between 40 and 80 hours, depending on the size.  

 All these hours of hard work are paying off, as Peters is now recognized in her first solo art show. She’s proud of her work and loves to see it all framed and mounted in one cohesive exhibit. The piece she’s the proudest of is called “A Nod to Alice.” Students may recognize this piece, as it is used in the flyers advertising the exhibit. It pictures Peters’ own partial reflection in a mirror on the table—a reference to a painting done by her favorite artist, Alice Neil.  

Peters’ love for art started when she was young. She enjoyed painting with her mother throughout her childhood. In school, she was always recognized for her artistic talents, but chose to pursue a degree in Elementary Education here at Viterbo. That all changed, however, when she took Art 105. The professor recognized her talent and convinced her to join the art department as an Art Education major. She got her BFA in Painting in 2010, then received her MA in Educational Leadership from Saint Mary’s University of Minnesota in 2020, at which point she returned to Viterbo to inspire art students just as she was inspired.  

Kira Peters’ exhibit, “Leave the Light On,” is an example of where hard work and a passion for the arts can get you. She’s not currently working on any new pieces, but leads workshops on Mondays and Wednesdays in the FAC, which are open to all students.