Whitman news since 1896

Whitman Wire

Vol. CLIV, Issue 10
Whitman news since 1896

Whitman Wire

Whitman news since 1896

Whitman Wire

‘Introductions’ lead off year for Sheehan Gallery

The Sheehan Gallery showcase entitled “Introductions” represents an exciting time for the college’s art department, according to faculty members.

The show, which exhibits pieces from a variety of media, features work by Professors Michelle Acuff, Mare Blocker and Alex Herzog. It presents an opportunity to introduce new faculty members to the community and vice versa, according to Blocker, who feels that one of the gallery’s goals this year is to reach out more to the Walla Walla community.

Through a collaboration of book arts and printmaking, Blocker feels that her body of work in this exhibition communicates themes related to boundaries and exposure, and the way people process trauma. She hopes that people viewing the gallery will see her work as a cohesive body.

“I would hope that people could contemplate, through the statement and moving through the room, how [the pieces] are thematically related,” said Blocker.

One of her pieces, “Every Three Minutes,” features a string of bound pages that cascades from the ceiling into a pile on the floor. The piece, accompanied by an excerpt from Andrea Dworkin’s “I want a twenty-four hour truce during which there is no rape” speech, visually represents the fact that a woman is being raped every three minutes. It exemplifies Blocker’s desire to examine the way visual narratives work.

Acuff’s “Wounded” employs a different medium to make another kind of visual statement. Upon entering the gallery, the installed sculpture is immediately visible. This piece is an assemblage of crutches made from scratch.

“The actual making of them was a lot of sanding, and almost it felt like caressing these objects…just really putting a lot of care into [them], as a meditation on war,” said Acuff regarding the process of creating the piece. For her, the piece is about “bearing witness” to the violence and dismemberment that appears on the news, particularly as a result of the war in Iraq. But she doesn’t want the piece to become overly political.

“You wouldn’t see [bearing witness] in the title, and I don’t want to mention it in the title because that’s pretty overpowering,” said Acuff. Her artist statement focuses on her desire to portray the relationship between drawing and sculpture, particularly emphasizing the use of line.

Herzog’s paintings blur and distort everyday images, reducing them to simple visual elements. He represents “bits of visual information” as dents in the paintings, each with unique modeling and depth. This seeming simplicity, combined with a monochromatic palette, may puzzle viewers as they view these often haunting images. But Herzog’s anthropological background provides insight into his composition.

His artist’s statement describes his work as a “collision of cultural anthropology and phenomenological experience.” His distortion of everyday images serves as an exploration of memory and mortality, and his palette “aligns the surface and his alterations, absorbing and reflecting light according to environmental change and the movement of the viewer.”

These three bodies of work represent the variation in experiences and artistic visions to be found in Whitman’s new art faculty. This, according to Blocker, has created “a lot of really great energy and excitement” in the department, due also in part to the construction of a new art building by Reid Campus Center.

“The art program rocks, basically,” said Acuff, who is honored by her opportunity to display work in this exhibition. In her experience, the commitment to the arts at Whitman is “unparalleled” compared to other liberal arts institutions where she has worked and studied.

“Introductions” opened Aug. 24 and will remain open through Sep. 23 for viewing.

Leave a Comment
More to Discover

Comments (0)

All Whitman Wire Picks Reader Picks Sort: Newest

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *