ST. CLAIRSVILLE, Ohio (Sept. 2) – Pittsburgh artist, Rebecca Slemmons, will be exhibiting her artwork at the Ohio University Eastern Art Gallery through September 26. A reception for the artist will be held on Tuesday, September 10 from 6pm – 8pm. The exhibit, "Gatherings," will showcase her talents in the disciplines of drawing, painting, video, performance, three dimensional works, fibers and sound.
Slemmons created the exhibit after visiting over 100 different places of worship in the Pittsburgh area in 2010. The artist went to temples, churches, synagogues and mosques of all faiths and denominations.
Central to the exhibit is a dress which she wore to each place of worship. In response to each visit, she created a small graphite and ink drawing and added fabric or embroidery to the dress that she wore to each visit, causing the dress to evolve and change with each experience. Slemmons documented the project with photographs, off-site video and an internet blog: www.gatheringspittsburgh.blogspot.com.
"Per capita, Pittsburgh has five times as many houses of worship as New York and, as a result, became the perfect setting for this project," she said. "My perception has always been that there was a great difference between those dedicated to a religious practice and those devoted to art. Therefore, my goal for this exhibit was to raise the question whether or not the ritual of art-making and the many spiritual rituals were at odds. In addition, I also wanted to raise an awareness of and hope for tolerance in today's diverse world."
Slemmons was surprised by her discoveries in "Gatherings." "I could not help but notice the similarities between most orthodox forms of the major religions," she said. "These similarities included the rituals of fire, burning of incense and candles, singing, bells, musicians, symbolic food and drink and the prostrate posture of prayer in Islam, Hindu and Orthodox Christianity."
According to Slemmons, she also finished the project with a newfound belief that both artists and the religious share a common pursuit: to search for and reveal the truth. "This pursuit allows us to respond to, and attempt to make sense of, ecstatic beauty, virtue and benevolence; as well as negative forces, harmful impulses and horrors, in the hope of understanding our place within humanity and within the physical, emotional and social world."
Slemmons' work has been shown in both individual and group displays throughout the U. S., including exhibits in Portland, OR; Baltimore, MD; New York, NY; Provincetown, MA and Pittsburgh, PA. The artist's works have also been shown internationally as well, with previous exhibits in Seoul, Korea and Berlin, Germany to her credit.
Slemmons credits her educational background and personal experiences as major influences on her work. She studied art at the University of Michigan and obtained master's degrees from both the University of Illinois at Chicago and from MICA, Mount Royal School of Art. The artist currently teaches at Robert Morris University. She previously taught at MICA and the University of Pittsburgh.
The Ohio University Eastern Art Gallery is located on the second floor of Shannon Hall and is open to the public 11am-5pm Monday through Wednesday and 5pm-8pm on Thursday. Admission is free.
For more information, please contact the Ohio University Eastern Campus at 740-695-1720.