SPEARFISH — Soon after graduating from Black Hills State, Dick Termes made a shift in his artwork that has wowed mathematicians and artists alike. Termes is internationally known for painting scenes onto spheres, known as “Termespheres.”
“As a study in perspective I was trying to get larger cameras like panorama photography to capture the view, and I realized what I wanted was the full picture – everything from one point in space swiveling around, above you, below you, and around you,” said Termes. “I put my six perspective points on a sphere, started projecting the lines and it just fit like a glove.”
Termes said that shift made him aware that he can take any cubical world and map it onto a sphere. He has since painted Termespheres of the Paris Opera, the Pantheon in Rome, Notre Dame, and St. Peter’s Cathedral, among many others. Termespheres are in permanent collections all over the world—from the Glasgow Science Centre and the Science Centre Singapore, to the Department of Mathematical Sciences at West Point Military Academy and Trinity College in Hartford, Conn.
Raised in Spearfish, Termes completed his bachelor’s in education from BHSU in 1964 and began his career as an art and biology teacher. He received a scholarship to complete his masters of fine arts at the Otis Art Institute in Los Angeles.
Termes returned to Spearfish in 1971 to teach art at BHSU. He says he loved spending time in the classroom helping aspiring artists reach their creative potential before committing to his art fulltime.
An outdoor art piece, the Clock Tower Termesphere, was installed on Hudson and Main Streets in Spearfish in 2017. In creating the piece, the artist turned to social media to ask residents what activities they liked to do in Spearfish. Termes incorporated many of the ideas in the Clock Tower Termesphere.
“Remember when you look at this sphere that conceptually you are inside the sphere looking out at the world around you. It helps to make it make sense,” said Termes.
Several spheres are on display at Termes’ alma mater. Wanda Bellman, BHSU professor emeritus, recently donated a second Teremesphere to BHSU. The first was “The Carrousel” and now the second one will also be installed at the David B. Miller Yellow Jacket Student Union called “Cubing the Sphere.” Termes completed a large sphere for the BHSU E.Y. Berry Library-Learning Center called “A Portrait of a College.”
Termes continues to live in his hometown of Spearfish, where he built The Termesphere Gallery in 1992. Earlier this month, Oprah Magazine recommended The Termesphere Gallery as The Must-Visit location in the state of South Dakota in their “50 Ways to Love Your Summer” article. His work has been noted in many other international publications illustrating concepts in art, math, psychology, optical illusions, and even economics.
Young artists and mathematicians in schools, libraries and museums are learning from Termes through his new “Up, Down and All Around” interactive art and geometry display. The traveling, hands-on display features different stations to explore drawing, perspective, and geometry, along with two and three- dimensional puzzles.
Termes’ next sphere will be a commissioned piece for a children’s museum in China.
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