March 1, 2006
By Kelee Riesbeck
The tables have been turned. Instead of art professors giving critical evaluations of projects produced by their students, faculty have submitted their recent work for public review in the 2006 School of Art Faculty Exhibition now on view at the Kennedy Museum of Art.
This biennial exhibition features work by both new and seasoned faculty members working in ceramics, graphic design, painting, photography, printmaking, sculpture, installation art and time-based media. Over half of the school's 29 faculty members have been hired within the last five years, says Robert Lazuka, director of the School of Art. This change informs the exhibition's aim: to showcase the creative ideas and research the studio faculty are producing, he says.
"Having this many new, young artists on our faculty represents a sweeping change for the School of Art's program. The 2006 faculty exhibition will give the regional and local community an opportunity to see everything from the traditional arts to video and installation works by our talented faculty," he says.
The faculty's diverse academic backgrounds are reflected in the variety of mediums and methods used by the artists to create their work. "In addition to the traditional fine arts disciplines represented in the exhibition," Lazuka says, "the innovative use of electronics and digital media signify the faculty's willingness to grow and expand the boundaries of art making."
The process of creating and expanding the discipline of art making is the same research-based process undertaken by other faculty, says Charles McWeeney, interim dean of the College of Fine Arts.
"The investigation into and study of materials, sources, et cetera, in order to reach new conclusions is the definition of research and this includes art activity and process," McWeeney says. "Artists in all fields are trained, astute, observers of, and commentators on, their environment. They reach new conclusions through the expression of the work they create."
One example of this vigorous exploration in art has been submitted by Carolyn Cárdenas, professor of painting and associate director and graduate program chair of the School of Art. The work, entitled "West of Eden," is a triptych painting project that began in 1985 and one Cárdenas says she will continue to work on until her death. She uses egg/oil tempera, a Renaissance painting material used by 14th and 15th century Italian and Flemish painters. Cárdenas' recent work focuses on this tempera technique to "put the viewer into the role of an ad hoc anthropologist who examines and questions cultural scenarios through the detritus presented."
"I like the egg/oil tempera technique, the original 'mixed technique', because it provides a uniquely lucid vehicle for expressing personal imagery. I can clearly observe in great detail the spaces and objects that evidence human behavior," she says.
Cárdenas has also worked with mixed media and in collage and says this work has broadened her range and extended her craft as an artist.
"My goal in utilizing a variety of media (with special consideration of an historical one) is to manipulate the best possible materials appropriate to each individual concept," she says. "My purpose is to communicate the inherent power of visual art through both socially potent content and fine craftsmanship, to see ordinary life through a microscope and, as in that experience, reexamine its visage through the aid of minutiae, to see magic where we thought none existed."
John Sabraw's, "Twilight at Euclid and McPherson," 2005, oil on canvas, represents the struggle that even seasoned artists encounter while creating a work of art. After beginning the project from slides taken in St. Louis in 1999, the piece went through starts and stops due to unresolved questions about composition and the need to find a way to prepare a canvas in such a way that would allow him to achieve his goals.
"I was still lacking what I felt was the right method of painting to achieve the double sense of deep space, vibrant color and yet intricate detailed natural structure," Sabraw says.
He picked up the project during 2001-2002 only to get "stuck" again. In 2003 he says, compositional and framing issues were resolved by using a computer, "which led me to a new understanding of how to speak in two languages on the same canvas," he says. Layers to the painting were added over the next three years, and the project was completed in October 2005.
"Once I gave myself permission to go with pure instinct the painting seemed to tell me what to do and the process became a pleasurable dance and meditative time," Sabraw says. "The resulting painting contains the most time I've ever put into one piece, and perhaps the most rewarding breakthrough for me."
School of Art faculty have exhibited in various museums across the country, including The Fogg Art Museum at Harvard University in Cambridge, Massachusetts, The Museum of Modern Art, New York, New York, The de Young Museum in San Francisco, California, and the Whitney Museum of Art in New York, New York. Many faculty members enjoy international recognition and are featured in various European museums and corporate buildings.
The exhibition runs until Sunday, March 12. Gallery hours at The Kennedy Museum of Art are Tuesday, Wednesday, Friday 12- 5pm; Thursday 12 to 8pm; and Saturday and Sunday 1 to 5pm. Closed Mondays and holidays. As always, admission is free. Visit www.ohio.edu/museum or call (740) 593-1304 for more information about the museum's current and upcoming exhibitions.
Kelee Riesbeck is public relations and media coordinator for the Kennedy Museum of Art.