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2015 Faculty Biennial opens at Bradbury Art Museum, Oct. 8


JONESBORO – Bradbury Art Museum (BAM) at Arkansas State University will host an exhibition of recent artwork by the faculty in the Department of Art.  The 2015 Faculty Biennial will open to the public on Thursday, Oct. 8, at 5 p.m.

Included in the exhibition are Nikki Arnell, Joe Ford, Shelley Gipson, John Norris, Bill Rowe, John Salvest, Curtis Steele, Cara Sullivan, Kimberly Boyd Vickrey, Susan Whiteland and Melissa Wilkinson.

Arnell, an assistant professor of graphic design, will exhibit paintings on paper and on wood.  They demonstrate her typography knowledge and hand-lettering skills.  She states, “The design research I am presently exploring focuses on hand-rendered text.  Its beautifully messy form that divorces itself from computer perfection is a common theme in this post-postmodern world.  As a graphic designer, letters are never just letters and space is never an afterthought.”

For the biennial Ford has created a video along with three stills.  “Corporations use Digital Rights Management (DRM) to make it difficult for you to take copyrighted works, like movies and music, and copy them as a digital file onto your computer," Ford says.  "Once you have the digital file on your computer you can share it for free, manipulate the original content or other scary things.  I've been experimenting with using the DRM itself to generate new images from copyrighted works, using technology designed to confound, and turning it into a tool for creativity.  Ford is an assistant professor of digital design.

Gipson has included five stunning new collograph and screen prints in the exhibition.  She serves as an associate professor of art in printmaking and says of her work, “The images that you see reflect defiance, death, aggression, solitude, strife and survival.  They are textural, degraded, fragmented or informative.   They represent physical and emotional veils.  Their sensual surfaces produce morbidly beautiful forms.”

In this show, Norris, associate professor of painting, will present two of his powerful new portraits.  He explains, “We all experience moments in which the roles we play in our daily lives come to define us in powerful ways.  In the pursuit of prosperity, leisure, social status, and personal meaning, we often assume identities that both define and fail to define us.  My current body of work explores the possibilities and limitations of our daily occupations at a time in which we frequently change jobs, balance multiple roles, and cannot easily delineate between private and public life.”

Inspired by the recent reconfiguration of BAM and the construction of five new galleries, sculpture professor Salvest will present a playfully interactive spatial installation by turning an all-too-familiar everyday object into an unexpected art material.

Three of Steele’s well-crafted digital drawings are included in the exhibition.  He serves as department chairman and professor of art and feels that, “when working on these pieces there is a transcendental state that I enter where time has no significance.  I work in solitude and in silence.  Each Bezier curve I draw and each pixel I modify becomes the focus of eye and hand, an intuitive response, not the result of a conscious thought process.  That is not to imply that there is no thought behind the work, but the process is both meditative and stimulating.” 

The first from a series of studies by Cara Sullivan, a new instructor of drawing, will be on view in this exhibition.  According to Sullivan, “Anyone who paints the figure in the 21st century is to a lesser or greater extent haunted by the ghost of John Singer Sargent.”  In her new series and loosely painted portrait “Sargent’s Ghost” she tries to come to terms with his influence.

She continues, “This is my way to have a conversation across centuries with one of the greatest portrait painters who ever lived.  As artists we are at once embracing our influences and doing battle with them.  In this case, I'm engaging in a process where I am repeatedly painting him in, and painting him out, in an attempt to strike the perfect balance.”

According to Vickrey, “Through traditional and now social media, raising a powerful, confident girl into an empowered woman is becoming increasingly difficult.” She states of her four digital prints in the exhibition, “This series is meant to call attention to the mounting pressure, unrealistic expectations and perceived competition put upon our girls.  Empowered or disempowered? The images are up to the viewer's willingness to "see" and create their own interpretations.”  Vickrey is a professor of graphic design.

Susan Whiteland, assistant professor in art education, has created two companion pieces that comment on her chosen profession.  She states, “Art teachers often reflect on their place among colleagues, in the educational community, and in the art field when composing their teaching philosophy.  Whiteland not only poses the question to herself but also to the viewer for consideration.”

Wilkinson, an assistant professor of painting will include a suite of new watercolors.  This prolific painter says of her work, “I appropriate imagery from a variety of sources in order to develop a pastiche that fractures the conventional male gaze and positions art historical models as both subject and spectacle.“

Of special note will be the work of Bill Rowe.  In this exhibition he will exhibit samples of his well-known pottery.  Also on display in BAM is a solo exhibition of his work.  As a professor of art, he teaches ceramics but for many years has also created sculptural and installation works.  Examples can be seen in “Many Ways to Read a Map,” which runs concurrently with the Faculty Biennial.  Both exhibitions close on Nov. 11.

Bradbury Art Museum hours are noon to 5 p.m. Tuesday through Saturday, 2 to 5 p.m. on Sunday, and by appointment.  The museum is closed on Mondays. 

Both exhibitions and the reception are admission-free and open to the public.  For more details, contact BAM at 870-972-3471, by email at bradburyartmuseum@astate.edu, or visit the website, BradburyArtMuseum.org.

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