Math professor transforms into accomplished painter in Continuing Studies art classes

Joshua Chover never had professional training as an artist, but instead took art classes through the University of Wisconsin-Madison Division of Continuing Studies. He calls his Continuing Studies instructor, Mary Diman, an “art teacher extraordinaire.”

Paintings like 'Mother and Child' vividly evoke Chover's love for his late wife, Flo.
Paintings like ‘Mother and Child’ vividly evoke Chover’s love for his late wife, Flo.

Chover’s commitment to developing his skills paid off with a distinctive painting style, evident in a new exhibition at the UW Pyle Center, 702 Langdon St. “From My Inner Eye,” on display through Dec. 29, features 62 oil and acrylic paintings that contend with personal loss and social upheaval.

Chover, 88, is an emeritus University of Wisconsin-Madison math professor who became interested in art-making as a child. He turned to painting in earnest after retiring from the university in 1993, influenced by Norwegian artist Edvard Munch.

A frequent subject of Chover’s work is his late wife, Flo, who lived for many years with Alzheimer’s disease. His paintings vividly evoke their love, as well as his grief at losing her.

“She was my beloved companion and my muse and my critic,” Chover tells the Capital Times in an article about his exhibition. “Until she said something was good, it wasn’t good. Losing her…I haven’t recovered yet.”

'No Echo': 'There’s so much joy and sadness and passion and doubt in the world that should be expressed,' Chover says.
‘No Echo’: ‘There’s so much joy and sadness and passion and doubt in the world that should be expressed,’ Chover says.

Chover’s paintings help him come to terms with other painful events in his own life and the world around him: a child’s death, war, homelessness, natural disaster. They also render beautiful and tender moments he’s experienced.

“There’s so much joy and sadness and passion and doubt in the world that should be expressed,” he tells the Capital Times.

Continuing Studies art classes

Visual art classes at UW-Madison Continuing Studies are taught by leading artists and educators. They’re held in locations around the Madison area and are designed to be accessible to community members. Upcoming programs include Drawing the Figure (Jan. 17-March 7), Painting in Oils: Fun with Fundamentals (Jan. 27-March 17), Discovering Patterns in Nature (Feb. 24-April 28), and Bookmaking: Folded Book Structures (March 5-May 7).

Joshua Chover’s instructor, Mary Diman, has taught art classes at Continuing Studies for more than 30 years. She focuses on traditional techniques for oil and acrylic painting and is a widely exhibited artist in her own right. Diman will teach Painting: Advanced Studio in Oils and Acrylic from Jan. 28 to May 13.

For more information about Continuing Studies art classes, see here or contact director Lynn Tarnoff, lynn.tarnoff@wisc.edu, 608‑890-1424.