ST. CLAIRSVILLE, Ohio (November 20, 2012) - Accomplished Pittsburgh artist, Kristen Letts Kovak, will be exhibiting her artwork at the Ohio University Eastern Art Gallery through December 7. A reception will be held for the artist on Monday, November 26 from 7-9pm. The solo exhibition entitled "Reconfigured Objects" features Letts Kovaks' unique attempt to interrupt the original meanings of a variety of objects.
"Objects are an inescapable part of our everyday lives, yet they often go unnoticed," said Letts Kovak. "We observe them according to their functions. We group them into broad categories. Yet, how often do we look past utility and simply observe? Can we ever eliminate the question, "What is it?"
In "Reconfigured Objects," Letts Kovak has physically altered broken and abandoned materials to create new forms that are alienated from their original functions. While they are formed from familiar parts, the amalgamations become unusual curiosities. According to the artist, their new function is primarily aesthetic.
"By exhibiting a combination of over fifty integrated drawings, paintings, and sculptures, I hope to create an environment which is part Wunderkammer, part archeological display and part domestic collection," said Letts Kovak. "This exhibition is my attempt to mask and then recode the objects' meanings by emphasizing the evolving visual and perceptual qualities rather than their utility. In this unfamiliar context, the objects are presented for the viewers' scientific and aesthetic study."
According to Letts Kovak, the central image of the exhibit is a painting representing the objects in a fictitious curator's display case. Surrounding it are the durational drawings and smaller paintings, while the center of the exhibition space contains supports displaying the reconfigured (and articulated) objects. The gallery becomes a platform for de-familiarized observation and discovery.
The artist, who has eliminated the immediate naming or her pieces in the hope of prolonging the process of observation, likens this exhibition to the viewing of a museum display where the identification guide is missing. As a result, the objects elicit careful questioning, rather than simple categorization. "In a culture which prefers immutable clarity, these representations promote curiosity and irresolute observation," said Letts Kovak. "My goal is to demonstrate that even the most conventional forms can be a rich area for exploration when removed from their familiar context."
Letts Kovak has displayed her work in numerous solo and invitational exhibitions in Arizona, California, Maryland, Michigan, Oklahoma, Pennsylvania and Washington, DC over the last ten years. Venues include Ann Arbor Center, Ann Arbor, Michigan; Irma Freedman Center, Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania; and Maryland Institute College of Art, Baltimore, Maryland. Her work was also featured in a five-museum touring exhibition including the Wildling Art Museum in Los Olivos, California and the Sonora Desert Museum in Tucson, Arizona.
Letts Kovak earned her Masters of Fine Arts in Studio Art from the Maryland Institute College of Art in 2010. She has been teaching painting and drawing for the past twelve years and been a visiting artist and critic at the University of Michigan Art Museum, Maryland Institute College of Art, University of Pittsburgh, Rocky Mountain College of Art, and DePaul University.
Letts Kovak is currently based in Pittsburgh and teaches at Carnegie Mellon University and Seton Hill University.
The Ohio University Eastern Art Gallery is open to the public and admission is free. The art gallery is located on the second floor of Shannon Hall. For gallery hours or more information, please contact Ohio University Eastern Campus at 740-695-1720.