Faculty exhibit at Hoffman Gallery features multi-media sculptures, art

This Spring, The Hoffman Gallery is exhibiting artwork from our very own faculty. Their collections, previously displayed in several galleries across the world, are here for our viewing pleasure for the next few weeks. 

This exhibit features two collections, Assistant Professor of Art Dru Donovan’s collection, “Scrum” and Associate Professor of Art, Studio Head of Painting Cara Tomlinson’s collection, “Betwixt and…” . The exhibit opened on January 26 and will be on display through March 23. Donovan’s collection of photography and Tomlinson’s collection of paintings and structures complement each other in this exhibit, while simultaneously providing unique insights into how different bodies exist alongside each other. Utilizing different mediums, both artists use abstract compositions to convey conflict and community. 

When visitors enter the gallery, they are greeted with a series of black and white photographs and videos by Donovan. These works add a fresh sense of bodily movement to every corner of the room. This collection comprises three videos and six archival inkjet prints which focus on how human bodies take up space and interact with each other. Donovan explores this theme through different compositions, poses and walks of life. 

In her artist’s statement, Donovan wrote that she challenges her audience to engage with her works in a way that does not assign meaning or context to the pieces. 

“The work offers no sound, no history or purpose, and no entry or exit; the images leave the viewer with just the impression of a physical negotiation. Isolated, held, and looped gestures create ambiguous and unresolved exchanges for the viewer,” Donovan wrote.

While her photographs and videos reflect a collection of different experiences with life and relationships, they are not a simple story meant to be understood completely. Each image is merely a snippet in time. 

“The usual cues – context, identity, motivation – allow the viewer to believe at first that they understand what is happening. However, because the image is balanced in a precarious stasis, the viewer’s actual inability to understand the root or cause of the gesture is common in all of the work, bringing to light that conflict and collaboration often coincide,” Donovan wrote. 

While it is impossible to understand the complete story of her subjects, Donovan offers the viewer a representation of nearly every stage of life. This collection will urge you to consider the value and beauty of every avenue of existence, from cheerleading to parenthood, to rugby and hospice care. 

Walking around this first room feels like growing up with her subjects. Her snapshots of lives communicate how important it is for people to grow alongside each other. 

In her works “Liberty Pose” and “Boxing Out,” she utilizes blank space to center attention onto the movement of her human subjects. In other works, such as in “Scrum,” she eliminates any possible space between bodies, which emphasizes their connectedness. Very few works in this collection portray faces of the subjects. This omission forces viewers to consider the importance of other areas of the body in conveying individual purpose, relationships, and community. 

After viewing Donovan’s work, visitors walk through the gallery to the next room, which explores bodies, form and composition in an entirely different way. Tomlinson’s collection includes colorful paintings, a wall completely covered by watercolor drawings on tracing paper, and textile and wood sculptures. 

This collection is titled “Betwixt and…” because it is an investigation into how Tomlinson fits between human and non-human bodies. While many of these bodies are constantly changing and fighting against other forces, Tomlinson invites the viewer to consider how bodies and ideas can exist alongside each other. This liminal space is conveyed through her vibrant, abstract art.

In an artist’s statement, Tomlinson explained how much she was inspired by the politics and realities of the past few years to make these works. During this time, Tomlinson took inspiration from our society’s collective fascination, fear and lack of knowledge around diseases and non-human forms. 

“It was a time when our bodies became viral vectors, and isolation and withdrawal became protection. It was also a time of protests, a time of joining other bodies to actions, and a time for learning from and standing up for non-human bodies and ecologies as our climate changes,” Tomlinson said in the statement.

Although the techniques and inspirations of these artists differ, both convey the conflict and community of various bodies in their collections. Whether you are more drawn to photography or abstract paintings and structures, the exhibit offers an interesting experience which challenges preconceived notions about existence.

Students can visit the Hoffman Gallery any day of the week from 11 a.m. to 4 p.m. and experience the world through another lens.

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