The 2008-2009 Williamson Memorial Artist-in-Residence was artist and Associate Professor at City College New York, New York, Sandy Winters. Winters, who received her MFA from Cornell University in Ithaca, New York, has exhibited extensively throughout the United States since the early 1980s.
The exhibition, titled Not In My Backyard: Sandy Winters - Ten Years, covered a series of provocative mixed media paintings, drawings, and prints from the past decade. The fantastical "landscapes" were simultaneously organic and mechanical, fruitful and destructive, and witty and shocking. The push and pull of her creative process and between the abstract characters featured seemed to tell a never-ending story about the cycle of life and death. The exhibition also featured an installation titled "Metamorphosis," an ongoing project done in part while Winters was in Terre Haute.
Poerty as Painting was the Williamson Memorial Artist-in-Residence in 2007-2008 work shown as a peek inside the expansive work that is Vera Klement's career. Klement, born in Danzig, Poland, had a prolific career spanning 50 years. After attending the Cooper Union School of Art and Architecture in New York, Klement relocated to Chicago, where she taught painting at the University of Chicago from 1969 until her retirement in 1995. She was widely recognized for her large-scale expressionistic paintings with lush, textured marks contrasting with the surrounding flatness of the canvas. Klement took inspiration from a group of German and Russian poets from the 20th Century, including Anna Akhmatova, Marina Tsvetaeva, Paul Celan, and Rosa Auslaender.
Her paintings have been exhibited at the Fort Wayne Museum of Art; the University of Arizona Museum of Art; the Renaissance Society at the University of Chicago; the Tarble Art Center of Eastern Illinois University; the Abner Hershberger Art Gallery, Goshen College; Miami University Art Gallery; the Mary and Leigh Block Museum; and Northwestern University. Vera Klement is represented by Alfedena Gallery in Chicago.
Throughout her career, Klement has received the Pollock-Krasner Grant (1998), the Guggenheim Fellowship (1981), and a Louis Comfort Tiffany Foundation Award (1954).
Afterwar was a fifteen year project (1989-2004) documenting the physical and psychological wounds of the twentieth century's frontline veterans, from World War I to Iraq. This work that was shown as the Williamson Memorial Artist-in-Residence in 2006-2007, sought to illuminate the human toll of our culture of war and was especially relevant amidst the ongoing carnage in Afghanistan, Chechnya, Colombia, Iraq, the Middle East, Sudan, and elsewhere. Covering the entire range of combatants of the past one hundred years, across boundaries of culture, geography and time, it was meant as a polyphony of voices revealing how people find themselves in war, what happens to them there, and the marks that remained when the fighting was over. More than a political statement, Afterwar was a meditation, illuminating the legacy and cost of armed conflict.
The 2005-2006 Williamson Memorial Artist-in-Residence was painter Michiko Itatani, a noted contemporary talent from the Midwest, who exhibited her paintings for the past thirty years. The exhibit focused on the past fifteen years. Her new, large-scale shaped canvases often had interocking figures pitted against one another, twisted, struggled, pushed and pulled as they both floated separately and together. While simultaniously pursuing a career as an artist, she taught and joined the School of Art Institute in Chicago as a professor in 1979. Her coursework including painting at the undergraduate and graduate levels which helped to keep her creative energies high. "Students at the Art Institute were very gifted," she noted, "the exchange of information that went on in the studio was refreshing... helping me to stay young."
David Vertacnik came to the University Art Gallery in 2004-2005 and was the Associate Professor of Ceramics at the University of Kansas in Lawrence. He received his Bachelor of Science degree from ISU and his masters from the New York State College of Ceramics at Alfred University in Alfred, New York. His art has been viewed in numerous solo, two-person and group exhibitions in the United States and Slovenia. His work was held in public and private collections, including those belonged to Bethal College (Newton, Kansas), the Lowe Art Museum (Coral Gables, Florida), and former President of Slovenia, Milan Kucan. Vertacnik employed a wide range of materials in his pieces, including ceramics, cast bronze, industrial and agricultural objects. Many of his sculptures where designed for outdoor sites, created with elements that moved freely in space.
The Beginning of Democracy in Athens and Its Impact on the Classical Ideal as Seen in the Parthenon was presented by Dimitri Liakos, Professor of Art History and Archeology at Northern Illinois University. This presentation coincided with the exhibition Neo-Classicism and Other Trends: Turn of the Century Fine and Decorative Arts at the Crossroads of America and focused on the art historical aspects of Classicism. In addition to his background in teaching, Liakos was President of the Classical Society and Ancient Art Collection. Specializing in Greek and Roman art, Liakos has presented hundreds of lectures around the world, published many articles and was the recipient of numerous awards.
The 2005-2006 Williamson Memorial Artist-in-Residence was the noted British painter Sue Spark. Spark, who received an M.A. in Fine Art from Manchester Polytechnic and a B.A. Honors in Fine Art from West Surrey College of Art and Design, was Senior Lecturer at Northumbria University in New Castle, England, She has been featured in numerous solo and group exhibitions throughout Europe, Asia and South America, but this solo exhibition was her first opportunity to show in the United States. Spark is noted for the use of layering techniques in creating geometric variations and her work played on notions of classicism and idealism. "My current paintings, drawings and prints combine both the historical and the vernacular," the artist noted. "References included contemporary pattern, the flat space of late modernism, Italian baroque drawings, and baroque and rococo ornament. This reflected a desire to access some of the forgotten and rejected motifs of art history, to re-connect with the past, but also to renegotiate it."
Footcandles was a progressive exhibition in 2004 that looked at the medium of photography from two different perspectives. On one hand, the exhibition included contemporary works produced with archaic photographic techniques such as photo-gravure, palladium printing, gum-bichromate, etc. In contrast, works utilizing traditional photographic genres and produced with new media techniques were also featured. This show included a variety of contemporary photographic work and included artists from across the country including: Joel Peter Witkin, Lorna Simpson, Jan Groover, Barbara Kruger, the Starn Twins, Jim Dine and Binh Danh.
Noted author Lyle Rexer was the guest lecturer for this exhibition. Rexer's book Photography's Antiquarian Avant-Garde: The New Wave in Old Processes (Harry N. Abrams, 2002), focused on the revival of archaic photographic processes in contemporary art, how today's artists were drawn to the hands-on quality of the older techniques, and the unique results that were produced. A former Rhodes Scholar from Columbia University, Rexer wrote regularly about art and photography for The New York Times, Art in America, Art on Paper, Aperture and Metropolis, among others.
Powerhouse: A Device for Gaining Heart was a temporary outdoor installation by alumni artist Lauren Ewing in 2004. The piece, sited just outside of ISU's New Theater on North 7th Street, was originally constructed by the artist in 1979 at the Rhode Island School of Design Museum. The provocative work was a scale replica of the old Narragansett Power Plant, which served as a symbol of power structures within our culture. The work incorporated sound and video and, as visitors interacted with the structure, they were drawn in and compelled to consider their own role within the relationship.
Zhi Lin was featured in a solo exhibition as the 2003 Williamson Memorial Artist-in-Residence. The exhibition showcased a series of epic paintings by the Seattle-based artist entitled, "Five Capital Exections in China." The five large-scale works, which took the artist approximately two years to complete, were accompanied by numerous drawings and color studies. Lin, who studied painting in China, the United Kingdom and the United States, created the epic works to challenge the viewer through their content. His monumental compositions drew from aspects of the traditional Chinese landscape while mimicking some characteristics of Social Realism. Lin's masterly approach to technique, realism and perspective and his charged sociopolitical themes combined to make his works powerful and provocative on many levels.
Noted author and contemporary art historian Linda Weintraub visited Indiana State University in October of 2003. Weintraub is the author of the popular Art on the Edge and Over: Searching for Art's Meaning in Contemporary Society (1995) and In the Making: Creative Options for Contemporary Art (2003). Weintraub previously served as the first director of the newly opened Edith C. Blum Art Institute located at Bard College and has also served as the Henry R. Luce Professor of Emerging Arts at Oberlin College, a multi-year post designed to facilitate the introduction of innovative, interdisciplinary, pedagogical schemes in a curriculum dedicated to fostering the creative process. She has also curated The Art of Body Crafting and, with Marketta Sepalla, Animal Anima Animus. Her lecture, based on her most recent publication was on the subject of why artists innovate.
Renowned American painter Philip Pearlstein visited Indiana State University in March of 2003 as the Michael M. Williamson Memorial Artist-In-Residence. Pearlstein, who is noted for his sharp-eyed, realistic representations of the human figure, reached artistic maturity in the early 1970’s. Considered a Modernist, he began working realistically at a time when most other artists were rejecting realism and devoting themselves to more abstract pursuits. His interest in the nude as a subject and his dynamic approach to composition helped to reinvent the terms by which Realism was considered and re-established the vitality of the genre as a contemporary form. Today, Pearlstein’s style is widely recognized and his prolific career has established him as one of the preeminent masters of our time. As the artist notes: “I have made a contribution to humanism in 20th Century painting - I rescued the human figure from its tormented, agonized condition given it by the expressionistic artists, and the cubist dissectors and distorters of the figure, and at the other extreme I have rescued it from the pornographers, and their easy exploitation of the figure for its sexual implications. I have presented the figure for itself, allowed it its own dignity as a form among other forms in nature.”
- History of Modern Art, H.H. Aranson, Prentice-Hall, Inc.
Noted art critic and Corresponding Editor for Art in America, Susan Snodgrass visited Indiana State University in September 2002. Snodgrass is an educator as well as an editor and a critic and has contributed to numerous other publications including Art Papers, Art and Auction, Dialogue, the New Art Examiner, WhiteWalls, and World Art. Her writing often addresses issues related to public art and, more recently, to the contemporary art of Central and Eastern Europe. She is co-curator of the exhibition “In Between: Art from Poland, 1945-2000,” the first U.S. survey of post-war and contemporary Polish art that took place at the Chicago Cultural Center and other Chicago-area institutions in 2001.
Willem Volkersz was the featured artist in the University Art Gallery in 2001. Volkersz, an avid collector of folk art, creates mixed media works which incorporate neon, painted surfaces, and both found and constructed objects. His autobiographical narratives draw heavily on the artist's personal experiences including his boyhood in Amsterdam, the Netherlands during World War II and incorporate his interest in American popular culture, which grew after his family moved to Seattle in the early 1950's. His confident expressions of nostalgia reflect a candor and simplicity that is carried over from the naïveté of the folk artists he collects.
The work of Arthur Ganson was shown in the University Art Gallery in January of 2001. The New England-based artist combines the mechanical thinking of the engineer and the playful spirit of the artist in sculptural works filled with gears, springs, cams, ratchets, and sprockets that are sometimes hand-cranked and sometimes motorized. Ganson’s kinetic sculptures not only entertain the viewer but also “demystify” the process in which they are created. The artist is not so much concerned with the “meanings” behind his works, but rather with making his work more accessible to the viewer.
Sandy Skoglund, a famed New York artist, presented her work in the University Art Gallery in January and February of 2000. Her photographs of sculpted and painted tableaux have helped redefine the medium of photography for contemporary artists. Skoglund’s work of the past three decades has commented on the imbalance of modern society’s demands on a fragile ecosystem with extraordinary craft and wit.
Richard Hunt is an acclaimed artist who has executed more than 100 large-scale public art commissions nationwide. His art was shown in the University Art Gallery in October and November of 1999. Hunt’s sculptures fuse industrial materials with evocative biological forms inspired by ancient mythology, African blacksmithing and African American literary and musical traditions. His art is the product of transformation, improvisation, and regeneration—firmly rooted in multiple histories and traditions.
Leonard Baskin, an internationally acclaimed artist, was a dominant figure in the world of art for more than forty years. His work was shown in the University Art Gallery in April of 1998. Baskin’s art can be described as dark with humanistic musings. At the opening of one his shows, he said, “There’s an added enrichment possible if you do a theme as a watercolor, then a woodcut, then a sculpture. I’m a great believer in the concept of ‘jack of all trades, master of all.” Baskin began his career as a printmaker and a sculptor by going against the grain. As the avant-garde was making increasingly abstract work, he was determined to keep his art as real as human suffering and as powerful as human hope.
Ida Kohlmeyer, a noted painter, sculptor and printmaker, was featured in the University Art Gallery in March and April of 1998. Themes, whether personal or universal in symbolism, were of little concern to the artist. The making of the object, the act of painting, the reenactment of the physicality of creation—this was the chief labor and the only work at hand. Kohlmeyer established a remarkable career as an heir to the Abstract Expressionist tradition of visual and spiritual freedom. The serigraphs that Kohlmeyer exhibited at ISU were all grid-based, brilliant as color studies, and as mysterious in their “pictographic” cadences as any ancient undeciphered text.