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Vol. LXIII, No. 21
 
Wednesday, May 27, 2009
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Works by Lewis Center Faculty Featured in Thought-Provoking Arts Council Exhibit

Ellen Gilbert

It’s a good thing that “Selections,” the current Peg and Frank Taplin Gallery exhibit in the Paul Robeson Center for the Arts, runs until July 3. For a single-room exhibition, there’s a lot to see, and viewers may well want to return more than once to contemplate the very different kinds of work on display.

“Selections” refers to selected works by Princeton University Lewis Center Visual Arts faculty. Those represented include visual arts lecturer Ann Agee; printmaking, etching, and lithography lecturer Kip Deeds; filmmaker Su Friedrich; lecturer John J. O’Connor; photographer Gary Schneider; and technological artist and former director of Visual Arts at Princeton University James Seawright.

Mr. O’Connor’s unsettling colored pencil, ink, and graphite works on paper include a kind of rainbow lolllipop image called Evil with the mysterious letters “FwJm” above. Three Hair Ghost works from 2005 appear to be variations on cracked eggs, but closer examination confirms that the “halves” could never fit together.

Unlike the other artists, Mr. Schneider has work in two separate spaces. Both are large, eerie manipulations of close-up photographs. His 1997 Genetic Self-Portrait/Hands might challenge any palm-reader with what appear to be milky-way-like stretches of starscapes accompanying the enlarged whorls that identify humans in hand- and fingerprints. A similar technique was used in Lips Self Portrait, hung on a perpendicular wall but immediately recognizable as related to Mr. Schneider’s Hands. These pressed-together kissers are not easy to contemplate; lacking any real sensuality they do not appear to have smooched with anyone or tasted something delicious in any recent time.

Mr. Deeds’s 2008 Alastic Series, made using relief print, screen print, and lithography, includes a helpful introduction instructing the viewer to “read” the 15-image folio “in numerical order.” The mostly-black and white renderings of images and words might be interpreted as a travelogue or history lesson, focusing on connections and our ability to stretch ourselves as we move into uncharted territories.

Three continuously (but not simultaneously) running videos by Su Friedrich also include, at times, words as well as images, and require some patience on the part of the viewer who wishes to view all three soundless, jumpy, intriguing works.

In the center of the room, Mr. O’Connor’s Orion, produced in 1998 using metal, plastic, and “electronic components,” juxtaposes the modern (including what appear to be rotating satellite dishes) with the classical (pyramid-like shapes).

Ms. Agee’s 2008 wall-sized Orange Room, made using acrylic, vinyl, and gouache on colored mulberry paper appears, perhaps, to hold the exhibit together. It reminded this viewer of Vanessa Bell’s paintings of interiors.

Artists’ Backgrounds

Ms. Agee has had one-person exhibitions in N.Y.C. and San Francisco, and has participated in many group exhibitions. Her awards include the Artists Invite Artists Residency, Watershed Center for Ceramic Art (2006); The Louis Comfort Tiffany Foundation Award (1997); the New York Foundation for the Arts, Felissimo Design Award (1997); and the New York Foundation for the Arts Fellowship.

A native of Newtown, Pennsylvania, Mr. Deeds had two solo exhibits, and was represented in nine group exhibitions, during 2004. In 2005, he had a solo exhibit at the Hunt Gallery of Webster University in St. Louis, where he also presented a lecture about his work. In the summer of 2005, Mr. Deeds was a printmaker in residence at Frans Masereel Centre in Belgium.

With the exception of one, Ms. Friedrich is the writer, director, cinematographer, sound recordist and editor of all her films, which have won a number awards, including Best Narrative Film Award at the Athens International Film Festival; Outstanding Documentary Feature at Outfest ‘97 in Los Angeles; Special Jury Award at the New York Gay Lesbian Film Festival; Grand Prix at the Melbourne Film Festival; the Golden Gate Award at the San Francisco Film Festival, and Best Experimental Narrative Award at the Atlanta Film Festival.

A graduate of the Pratt Institute, Mr. O’Connor was a resident artist at the Farpath Foundation in Dijon France in 2007, and visiting printmaker at the Flying Horse Press in Orlando, Florida, in 2003. He recently presented work and conducted studio visits at both the School of the Museum of Fine Arts in Boston, and at the Maryland Institute College of Art. Mr. O’Connor has taught art and art history at Pratt Institute, N.Y.U., and Adelphi University. He has exhibited at galleries in the U.S. and Europe, and his work has been reviewed in the New York Times, Art in America, the Village Voice, and the New Yorker. Mr. O’Connor’s work is included in the collections of the Museum of Modern Art, Southern Methodist University, and New Museum of Contemporary Art.

South-African born Gary Schneider worked in the theater of Richard Foreman and Robert Wilson in the 1970s, continuing to make films through the early 1980s. He has been exhibiting his photography since 1991. His Genetic Self-Portrait installation, completed in 1998, was exhibited in the U.S. at Mass MoCCA and The International Center of Photography. It has also been exhibited internationally and continues to travel. His work is in The Whitney Museum, The Guggenheim Museum, and The Metropolitan Museum, New York; The National Gallery of Canada; The Musée de Elysée, Lausanne; The Museum of Fine Arts, Boston; and The Art Institute of Chicago. Mr. Seawright, a native of Jackson, Mississippi, is considered by many to be one of the foremost technological artists since the late 1960s. His works are in the permanent collections of the Museum of Modern Art, the Whitney Museum, and the Guggenheim Museum of New York; the Rose Art Museum at Brandeis University; the New Jersey State Museum at Trenton; and other museums throughout the world.

The Program in Visual Arts, part of the newly established Lewis Center for the Arts, allows interested undergraduates to explore the modes of thought and practice of visual media and to develop their creative skills in connection with a general program of humanistic education. Courses are offered in ceramics, digital and analog photography, drawing, film and video production, film history and criticism, painting, printmaking, sculpture, installation art, and contemporary art.

Summer exhibition hours are Monday thru Friday, 9 a.m. to 5 p.m., and Saturday 10 a.m. to 4 p.m. For further information about the exhibit or the Arts Council, call (609)924-8777, or go to www.artscouncilofprinceton.org.

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