Art philosophy lecture to examine the “weirdly familiar”

Published 12:40 pm Tuesday, February 13, 2024

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On exhibit currently at Upstairs Artspace Gallery are 17 portraits that have caused quite a stir. 

Curious viewers use words such as alien, fun-house mirror, SnapChat filter, and odd and creepy to describe Kevin Isgett’s paintings in his show titled, “Strangers.” Isgett says the subjects of the portraits, reminiscent of American folk art portraiture and with unusual names, are “weirdly familiar.”

Upstairs Artspace invites the public to attend a free community lecture that will delve into the meaning behind these distorted faces, presented by retired philosophy professor Deborah Fitzgerald, Ph.D., on Sunday, February 25 at 3 p.m.

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The lecture is entitled, “A Philosophical Look at the Portraits of Kevin Isgett,” and will be followed by Q & A.  

Fitzgerald’s area of expertise is the intersection between philosophy and contemporary art. She will examine Isgett’s work through the lens of the philosopher Friedrich Nietzsche and in passing some other philosophers. 

Friedrich Nietzsche (1844-1900) was a German philosopher. His ideas have had a profound impact on 20th and 21st-century thinkers in multiple disciplines. 

Fitzgerald will also look at how philosophical views might cause us to connect Isgett’s work with other artists.

Fitzgerald has a Ph.D. in philosophy and has taught at Rutgers University, Ohio State University, Furman University and Wofford College. She grew up in the suburbs of Chicago, and has lived in Manhattan, Berlin, the Loire Valley, and California. In past years, she gave a series of lectures at Upstairs Artspace on the philosophy of art, including a recent lecture on the photography of Elizabeth Matheson.

Upstairs Artspace, Tryon’s contemporary art gallery, is located at 49 S. Trade St., next to the movie theater. Call 828-859-2828 or visit for more information. 


Submitted by Claire Sachse