“Figurative Fridays,” located in the front gallery and projection wall, celebrates the artwork that has come out of a longstanding relationship between the Department of Art and Design and a group of off-campus artists from around the St. Louis community. For over a decade, variations of this group have come to the department on Friday mornings to draw figure models in the department and enjoy some collective studio time. This is the first time work from this group will be exhibited in the gallery.
“In Figurative Fridays, the department celebrates the tradition of figurative art produced through an ongoing partnership with members of our broader St. Louis community,” said Michael Behle, associate chairperson and interim director of Gallery210@FAB. “Our gesture of goodwill and providing studio space translates into a rich and fruitful return of artworks inspired by the human form.”
Just around the corner from “Figurative Fridays” in the main hall of Gallery210@FAB, visitors will find “Hung Together,” an exhibition of artworks made by faculty in the department and their students. Originally conceived by former Gallery 210 director Terry Suhre, the exhibition is meant to explore the traditions and dynamics of faculty and students working together by displaying one work from each next to each other, eliciting a conversation between the two.
“[This exhibition] delivers important learning outcomes for our students and celebrates the work being done by both our faculty and our majors,” Behle said. “By placing the work of a professor and student next to one another, a kind of dialogue is created which can offer moments of reflection on creative research and exchange. Students gain further experience in exhibiting their art, writing and talking about it. Faculty have the chance to further demonstrate professional practices and engage in deeper dialogue about their art practice with their students.”
As a means of furthering that dialogue, each pairing is also displayed alongside a written response from both the faculty member and the student in which they respond to the other artwork. For instance, “Mother Mary” from Caitlyn Sapienza, a junior studying studio art, is paired with “Dad’s Vacation Snaps” from Professor of Art Dan Younger, and their responses explore how traditional photography can be manipulated to create something wholly their own.
“This willingness to share one’s perspective is something that can be seen in all of Dan Younger’s work,” Sapienza wrote of Younger’s piece. “He displays a seemingly limitless ability to create and recreate through his pieces. His vast knowledge of the history of photography provides a powerful base for all his work, and yet it does not limit him. He is continuously able to revisit and re-envision past pieces in new or different ways, simultaneously strengthening his previous work as well as his future ideas. As with the piece, ‘Dad’s Vacation Snaps’ there is a clear connection from past to present, and by using a cut-and-paste collage technique there is also a sense of playful reimagining of this warm family memory. Both Dan Younger’s piece and my own utilize this technique of manipulating real elements to create a final product that is one of experimentation and imaginative creation. By using photos of ourselves to create scenes directly from our own minds, we share works that are uniquely personal to each of us.”
Meanwhile, of Sapienza’s piece, Younger wrote, “[It is a beautiful example of New Pictorial art. The posing, lighting and dominant color are a reference to 17th century painting, and yet because she used herself as all three models, Caitlyn has firmly claimed her place in post-modern art circles by creating a dichotomy between her three photographic self-portraits and the illusion of a 17th century painting. My piece, entitled ‘Dad’s Vacation Snaps,’ which purports to show 20 slides in order from my father’s camera, shows portraits of my mother, my sister, and I in a Western landscape, and are meant to be read as a sequence from top left to bottom right. (I’m glad he kept photographing, as it seems odd things occurred during those 20 shots.) Both of these pieces create a new reality from existing photographs in the tradition of the Pictorialists of old, and yet bely the other tradition of photography – ‘photographs don’t lie.’”
“Hung Together” and “Figurative Fridays” officially opened on Jan. 17 and will run through Feb. 10. A public reception will be held Friday from 5 to 7 p.m. Two additional exhibitions will then round out the spring semester at Gallery 210@FAB. “Art in Translation,” held Feb. 20 through March 31, will showcase visual and literary art practices through a partnership with a creative writing class at Missouri University of Science and Technology,and “The Knowledge of ART,” held April 10 through May 12, will shed light on the alumni of the Art Education program at UMSL.