Invisible Threads~Common Ground at Clarion University Gallery

September 4, 2009

Invisible Threads~Common Ground is the opening exhibit in the University Gallery at Clarion University for the 2009-10 season. The exhibit features seven Pittsburgh artists and the works of the four artists who inspire them.

The exhibit is Sept. 8-Oct. 16 with an opening reception Sept. 10 at 5 p.m. in the Gallery, Level A, Carlson Library. The exhibit and the opening reception are free and open to the public. Gallery hours are: Monday and Tuesday 1-5 p.m., and Wednesday 1-8 p.m.

Featured artists for the exhibit are Pittsburgh's Tim Hadfield, Adrienne Heinrich, Jennifer Howison, Delanie Jenkins, Mary Mazziotti, Susanne Slavick, and Barbara Weissberger. Prints by artists who inspired their work, Paul Binai, Franciso Goya, Kathe Kollwitz, and Herb Olds, will also be on display.

Dr. Vicky A. Clark, new director of the University Gallery, is curating the exhibit she first organized in 2009 for the IUP Museum. She intended to increase the exposure of the collections of a Western Pennsylvania museum and the work of several contemporary artists through a theme suggested by the work of historical artists that continues to inspire artists today. Across cultures and time periods these artists react to the human condition, making work that speaks to everyone.

She received her B.A. from UCLA, M.A. from University of California at Davis, and Ph.D. from University of Michigan, all in art history. In addition to her duties as gallery director, Clark will be teaching art history half-time.

Clark is an independent curator, critic, author, and teacher based in Pittsburgh. She has worked in contemporary art at the Carnegie Museum of Art where she initiated the Forum Gallery, a series of contemporary exhibitions, and produced International Encounters: The Carnegie International and Contemporary Art, 1896 - 1996, the official history of that august exhibition. She also worked at the Pittsburgh Center for the Arts, producing theme-based exhibitions including: Rycyling Art History, Digital Traces: Navigating Interactive Realms, The Fact Show: Conceptual Art Today. As an independent curator, she presented two travelling exhibitions: Comic Release: Negotiating Identity for a New Generation and Figures of Thinking: convergences in Contemporary cultures. She has written for numerous international publications, reviewed many exhibitions, and written catalogue essays. She was named Curator of the Year in Pittsburgh and is included in Mirabella magazine's list of 1000 women for the millennium.

"I happily explored the vaults," said Clark about her efforts to organize the exhibit last year. "Once I saw the Goya and Kollwitz prints, I knew that my search had ended for I had been deeply moved by their work at different times in my life. The collection also yielded the work by contemporary artists Herb Olds and Paul Binai who continue the tradition.

"What attracts me to these works is the undeniable need to address the human condition, to reinforce the positive and to condemn the negative in the societies of their own times. For art is firmly entrenched in its own time, responding to issues and concerns. The contemporary artists I selected join their voices to those of the past by raising questions of life and death, political irresponsibility, personal trials, perseverance, racial and gender inequality, the human spirit, consumer-driven desire, and a belief in a better future. In the heady mix of these sometimes contradictory concerns, these artists maintain an adherence to the highest aesthetic standards, making art that moves the soul and heart with a powerful beauty. This is not a show of doom and gloom, but one that presents belief, humor, and insight in the face of troubling issues and actions that parallel those found in the work of their predecessors Goya and Kollwitz. The invisible threads that connect these artists of different generations define a common ground that defies differences across cultures and eras."

At Clarion, Clark believes the exhibition will increase student exposure to works of art rarely available in the area. "Most students will not have seen a Goya or a Kollwitz print and are not aware of the complexity of contemporary art; this exhibition serves to bridge that gap by bringing historically important works to campus in the context of the students own lives to show art's relevance to the issues of our times," she said.

Art department classes such as visual arts (an introduction to art), contemporary art, printmaking, painting, sculpture, and graphic design will be required to use the exhibition as the basis of writing and studio projects, expanding their perspectives on the art of current time. Other disciplines, especially history and English, will also utilize the exhibition as an educational experience.

Clark is a curator of contemporary art who has worked at the Carnegie Museum of Art where she established the Forum Gallery and at the Pittsburgh Center for the Arts. She produced International Encounters, a book on the history of the Carnegie International, and curated and wrote the catalogue for Popular Salon of the People, the story of the Associated Artists of Pittsburgh. She has organized more than 50 exhibitions including Recycling Art History and Comic Release, has been an adjunct professor at many area universities, and is a critic published in international magazines.

Binai has been both a curator and a painter with galleries in France and New York City and an international exhibition record.

Olds has retired from Carnegie Mellon and has an impressive exhibition record.

Hadfield is the chair of the media arts department of Robert Morris University and exhibits widely in the U.S. and Europe.

Heinrich was Artist of the Year at the Pittsburgh Center for the Arts and has galleries in New York City and Washington, D.C. and has shown internationally.

Howison teaches at a Waldorf school and has exhibited at the Mattress Factory and several Pittsburgh venues.

Jenkins is the chair of the studio arts department at the University of Pittsburgh, was Artist of the Year at the Center, has shown at the Mattress Factory and been included in several other exhibitions.

Mazziotti's resume includes a long list of exhibitions in the U.S. and Europe, and she has Pittsburgh and New York City galleries.

Slavick was the former chair of the art department at Carnegie Mellon University, was Artist of the Year at the Center, and has shown her work internationally.

Weissberger is a member of the art faculty at the University of Pittsburgh, has a New York City gallery, has been awarded numerous residencies, and has a long exhibition record including an appearance at the Mattress Factory.

Upcoming during Fall 2009 are the Presidential Exhibition, Oct. 26-Nov. 13, and B.A./B.F.A. Exhibitions, Nov. 30-Dec. 11.

Clarion University is the high-achieving, nationally recognized, comprehensive university that delivers a personal and challenging academic experience.

Last Updated 4/9/18