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School of Art faculty showcase diverse work

Jan. 13, 2006
By Kelee Riesbeck

The tables have been turned. Instead of art professors giving critical evaluations of projects produced by their students, the faculty of the Ohio University School of Art has submitted their recent work for public review for the 2006 School of Art Faculty Exhibition now on view at the Kennedy Museum of Art at The Ridges in Athens. The exhibition runs until Sunday, March 12.

Twilight at Euclid and McPhersonThis biennial exhibition features works 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 of Art's 29 faculty members have been hired within the last five years, said Robert Lazuka, director of the School of Art. This change informs the exhibition's aim: to showcase the creative ideas and research the entire School of Art 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 School of Art Faculty Exhibition will afford the regional and local community the opportunity to enjoy seeing 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, said Lazuka.

"In addition to the traditional fine arts disciplines represented at the exhibition, the innovative use of electronics and digital media signify the faculty's willingness to grow and expand the boundaries of art-making," says Lazuka.

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. Cárdenas used egg/oil tempera; a Renaissance painting material used by 14th and 15th century Italian and Flemish painters to produce it. Cárdenas received her M.F.A. in painting at Drake University in Des Moines, Iowa in 1979, and did her post-graduate research on Renaissance painting materials and methods at the University of Arizona in Tucson, Ariz. 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," she says.

"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 a 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."

Another faculty member, John Sabraw, will show "Twilight at Euclid and McPherson," 2005, an oil-on-canvas painting. Sabraw is an assistant professor in the Studio Foundations department and holds an associate of arts degree in illustration from Pratt Institute in New York, N.Y., and a M.F.A. in painting from Northwestern University in Evanston, Ill. Sabraw has worked professionally as a designer, illustrator, author, admissions officer, recruiter, and career counselor.

"Twilight at Euclid and McPherson" represents the struggle that even seasoned artists encounter while creating a piece, Sabraw says. 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," he said.

Sabraw picked up the project during 2001-02 only to get "stuck" again. In 2003 he said, 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, Mass., The Museum of Modern Art, New York, N.Y., The de Young Museum in San Francisco, Calif., and the Whitney Museum of Art in New York, N.Y. Many faculty members enjoy international recognition and are featured in various European museums and corporate buildings.

Gallery hours at the Kennedy Museum of Art are Tuesday, Wednesday and Friday, noon to 5 pm; Thursday, noon to 8 p.m.; and Saturday and Sunday, 1 to 5 p.m. The museum is closed Mondays and holidays. 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 the public relations and media coordinator for the Kennedy Museum of Art.

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Published: Jan 13, 2006 9:57:42 AM
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