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Cory Peeke, “a higher education (above the decline),” 2014, mixed media collage.
December 16, 2014
Peter Christian Johnson, “Orange V,” 2014, porcelain, 22”x15”x8”
LA GRANDE, Ore. (EOU) – The Nightingale Gallery marks the New Year with an exhibition of works by EOU’s accomplished and internationally recognized visual arts faculty.
The exhibit gives an in-depth look at the recent studio practices of professors Peter C. Johnson, Susan Murrell, Cory Peeke and Michael Sell. These four dedicated artists and educators have worked together to create a dynamic exhibition that serves as an example of the excellence and cooperation that defines the university’s art program.
An opening reception is planned from 6-8 p.m. Friday, Jan. 9 in the gallery in Loso Hall. In conjunction with the exhibit, faculty will present a gallery talk from 5-7 p.m. Wednesday, Jan. 14 in Nightingale. Both events are free and open to the public.
Johnson is presenting his most recent sculptural ceramic work, which explores both structural and material transformation. He uses the kiln as a vehicle for deconstruction. The porcelain grid systems in his sculptures begin as digital renderings and are meticulously fabricated by hand. These structures become the architecture over which to stretch a fluid skin that is allowed to warp or collapse the structure under the strain of the firing.
Johnson’s resulting sculptures expose the relationship between soft and hard, the fluidity of a membrane and the moment of intersection between these contrasting elements. They pair labored construction with unpredictability and capture the deterioration embodied in the process.
Susan Murrell, “Abeyance” (detail) 2014, site-specific installation at the Museum of Northwest Art, sign vinyl, watercolor, acetate and tape.
Murrell’s installations and paintings – like geological, biological and cultural forces –simultaneously disintegrate and procreate, organizing themselves into complex systems. Within the context and tradition of abstraction, she engages this shift in visual knowledge.
Murrell believes technology has fundamentally changed connections to the landscape. The horizon has defined the human relationship to the world; now with an expanding perspective, to feel a kinship with microscopic images and aerial views of planets. Similarly, the clean lines of grids, maps and charts have become cultural shorthand for quantifying, organizing and even designating ownership of new information.
Peeke collects remnant imagery: the largely ignored and seemingly inconsequential bits of ephemera that once had a purpose, still have a presence, but are idle in disuse. He combines, layers, glues, tapes and re-contextualizes these bits and pieces of detritus in order to reincarnate and recharge them.
Through the process of collage, these snippets of the past combine to become something both fresh and familiar. Peeke’s most recent works explore the duality that is the transient, disposable nature of culture, as well as the need to create tradition and cultural continuity through the lens of the book and higher education.
Michael Sell, from the series “Pressley, Montana,” 2013-14, archival inkjet print, 16″x20″
Sell’s most recent work is driven by his observation of a continued scattering and the belief that when technology is meant to simplify life and it doesn’t, what is left are not memories and hopes but information. Life is scattered, the art world is scattered and everything needs organizing.
Sell leaves behind the tradition of photography as simply an image within a frame and instead categorizes separate ideas within an overarching bureaucratic structure. He examines the construction of a system of categories, ideas and concepts, which leaves viewers examining the structure of not just his individual images, but that of the gallery and art world as a whole.
For more information on each individual artist and their work, visit the EOU art program faculty website at www.eou.edu/art/faculty.
See the show through Friday, Jan. 30 between 11 a.m. and 4 p.m., Monday through Friday. For more information, go to www.eou.edu/art or like Nightingale Gallery on Facebook.
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