The Maude Kerns Art Center presents “despondent,” a group show of six artists opening with a public reception on Friday, February 21, from 6 – 8 pm. The exhibit features the work of Judith Hochman, Kumja Lee, M.V. Moran, Alanna Risse, Rhonda Vanover, and Amanda Martin Wilcox. Each artist has a connection with the Pacific Northwest and each received an MFA from Pacific Northwest College of Art in Portland. The six artists approach the subject of melancholy from different perspectives, expressing their particular visions in fiber installations, mixed media prints, photograms, and monumental oil canvases. “despondent” is on view through Friday, March 20.
Judith Hochman displays a series of 7 striking abstract mixed media prints, called Hides. The prints started out as monotypes that were then painted and drawn upon with ink, charcoal, and conté crayon. Inspired by The Hide by British author Barry Unsworth, Hochman focusses on the idea of concealment, “using the device of voyeurism and the form of various ‘hides’ to explore the nature of seeing and the moral or ethical dimension of perception.”
Kumja Lee, who is originally from Seoul, South Korea, is currently based in Eugene. For “despondent” she exhibits a large-scale floor-to-ceiling fiber installation that emphasizes line and shadow with delicate gradations of color. Her work explores different concepts of time, both from the East and West. She comments about her work: “The progression of time embraces all human emotions that pass through it, even the state of being despondent.”
M.V. Moran exhibits three monumental mixed media drawings of women, each in a 1950s style swimsuit, titled Disheartened, Discouraged, and Dispirited. Moran plays with ideas about aging and muses that her three women could have been congregants in the church – now transformed into the Art Center - whose congregation had “aged out.” She also shows her “despondent spheres series” of paintings created in response to a sense of hopelessness in humankind.
Alanna Risse shows a distinctive series of dark, richly painted water images in “despondent.” After experiencing a very difficult year of physical illness, pain, and depression, Risse paints as a way to confront her difficulties rather than fight them. She calls the series a “meditation on letting go and embracing the feeling of drowning in order to overcome it.” Forced to face her challenges, she begins to see her life with a clearer lens.
Rhonda Vanover is part of the photography faculty at Ithaca College in upstate New York. Vanover exhibits work that was produced on a vintage panoramic camera and then exposed on film as one continuous image. She investigates the practices and rituals surrounding death and dying by photographing mass burial sites hidden in tourist destinations, places like the Magnolia Plantation in Charleston, SC where African slaves were tortured and buried.
Amanda Martin Wilcox exhibits four paintings that address the theme of “despondent” by exploring what she calls “the divisive discomfort of our times.” Her abstracted images allude to a certain social malaise present in daily life. In her painting titled Invasive Flowers, Wilcox seeks to depict what she refers to as the “acrid effects of social messaging,” whereby the seeds of the “flowers of discontent” spread misinformation in the political landscape.
The public is invited to an Artists’ Talk about “despondent” on Saturday, March 14, from 1:30 – 3:00 pm.
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