Luther professor Richard Merritt's drawings and paintings on display Sept. 7-Oct. 18

Data is ubiquitous in the modern world. Facts and figures fly from immediate sources and countless numbers clutter people's lives, losing meaning to abstract ideas. Richard Merritt, Luther College professor of art, investigates the visual principles of big data through a series of paintings and drawings in his art exhibit "Schemata."

"Schemata" is on display Sept. 7-Oct. 18 in the Kristin Wigley-Fleming Fine Arts Gallery of the Center for the Arts on the Luther campus. A gallery reception will be held at 3:30 p.m. Saturday, Oct. 17.

Both the exhibit and the gallery reception are open to the public with no charge for admission.

Merritt says schemata are the models imposed on the complex realities, relationships and experiences of existence. These models offer placeholders for vast quantities of data and act as imaginary intermediaries between raw experiences and how those experiences are perceived and organized.

The result of several years of research on social media data, Merritt's exhibit seeks to strip the raw data from models, leaving them with pure schemata.

Merritt has been a member of the Luther faculty since 1998. He teaches courses in art and technology, drawing, intermedia arts and critical theory. He is a trans-disciplinary artist whose work sits at the crossroads of aesthetic object, social practice arts and scholarship.

With exhibited and published research in a wide variety of disciplines presented around the world, Merritt's scholarly work has appeared in numerous publications such as the "Leonardo Journal of Arts and Sciences" of the MIT Press and in the proceedings of the Institute of Electrical and Electronic Engineers.

Most recently, he presented "The Computational Body, Composite Bodies and Post Human Prototypes in Contemporary Performing Arts" at the University of Ghent in Belgium and he was invited to present "Absence of Bravery: African American Masculinity and the Construction of the Hero Narrative During the World Wars" at Liverpool Hope University in England.

Merritt's 2014 scholarship included presenting "Invisible Geographies: Violence and Oppression in the Prison-Industrial Complex and Concentrated Animal Feeding Operations" at the National Conference of the American Association of Geographers in Tampa, Florida, and "Black Samurai Hip-Hop Blues: African-American and Japanese Constructions of the 'Other'" at the Japanese Black Studies Association conference at Ritsumeikan University in Kyoto, Japan.

A national liberal arts college with an enrollment of 2,400, Luther offers an academic curriculum that leads to the Bachelor of Arts degree in more than 60 majors and pre-professional programs. For more information about Luther visit the college's website:

Richard Merritt