Artists Tony and Eliza Auth Inspire Students

By Purnell T. Cropper | May 1, 2013


The respected and admired Tony and Eliza Auth took time out of their busy schedules to speak to a select group of students from Arcadia’s Art and Design and Historical and Political Studies departments on April 11. Students basked in their wealth of knowledge concerning everything from painting and graphic design to political commentary and medical illustration. The duo reciprocated the enthusiasm and presented their work with equal verve.

The session proved intimate and animated. Students introduced themselves, giving their names and majors. The artists responded with bits of conversation, putting the room at ease. Questions surfaced and were answered with passion as the Auths presented their work. There was a genuine sense of collaboration and a spark of inspiration throughout the room.

Tony Auth, political cartoonist extraordinaire, kicked off the hour-long session with anecdotes from his enviable career working at The Inquirer and Newsworks. “It was interesting listening to Tony Auth, and how his career reconciles seemingly independent subject matter, art and politics,” said Global Legal Studies major Joshua Baskin ’13.

A charismatic speaker, Auth shared his experiences illustrating both children’s books and medical studies while flipping through slides of cartoons commenting on the political climate. Students sat captivated as he related his first voyage into the world of illustration: drawing the happenings on popular radio programs. His talk of getting published led him to question the current state of publishing, a relevant topic for today’s content producers. “Anybody can publish nowadays on the internet,” he said, “but the question remains, how will anyone make money?” Today, it’s easy to get an audience. It’s difficult to translate an audience into a living.

Eliza Auth followed her husband’s thought-provoking and funny pen and ink drawings with dreamy, ethereal landscapes. The pieces evoke a sense of quiet, poetic bliss as the terrains depicted seem untouched and sacred. In reality, Eliza Auth says they are often found “just off the road.” She works in a similar manner to Wordsworth who wrote in his “Preface to the Lyrical Ballads” that he worked from “emotion recollected in tranquility.” Auth explained how she gets a sense for the “emotion” of a place as she hikes, taking pictures. She then reflects on these moments in the “tranquility” of her studio. She works from photographs, but was quick to point out that her work is not mere reproduction. As she paints, she impresses on the real places a unique, otherworldly energy by making colors more or less saturated and softening or sharpening edges. “I love that sense of chaos and bringing order to it,” she said of her work.

Once both artists presented their work, students asked them what they hope to say with their pieces. Tony Auth responded, “What I’m really trying to do is just be a part of the conversation. Visuals can be a powerful way of communicating and humor can really sneak up on people.”

This struck a chord with Samantha Schaeffer ’14 who said, “It’s true that art and humor break barriers. It’s powerful to be able to break barriers.”