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Scenes from The University of Rhode Island

URI Fine Arts Center Galleries exhibition is Speaking Volumes

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KINGSTON, R.I. -- June 8, 2005 -- A new exhibition opening later this month at the University of Rhode Island's Fine Arts Center Galleries will quietly turn up the volume in the regional arts arena.

"Speaking Volumes," a unique exhibition in the University's Main Gallery, brings together for the first time the diverse works of four nationally known artists: Tricia Cline of Woodstock, N.Y., Deborah Muirhead of Storrs, Conn., Jane Rosen of San Gregorio, Calif., and Suzanne Volmer of Lincoln, R.I.

The exhibition will run June 23 – July 31, and continue Sept. 6 – 30. Free and open to the public, the Main Gallery is open Tuesday through Friday, noon - 4 pm, and Saturday and Sunday, 1 - 4 pm. Gallery tours to small supervised groups made be arranged by calling 874-2627 weekdays, 8:30 am - 4:30 pm.

"The works in this exhibition 'speak volumes' spatially and metaphorically," explained Judith Tolnick Champa, exhibition curator. "There is a seriousness in the artists' sense of address, a meaningfulness in their enterprise as accomplished sculptors, painters, makers of artist's books.

"Even the titles of some of the works featured signal the passions and range of creative inspiration that abounds in the work," said Tolnick Champa.

For example, Tolnick Champa cited works titled The Exile and The-Path-of-the-Mouse Arrive by Cline (shown above right), The Conjurer's Apprentice by Muirhead, First Wheel by Rosen, and Peel 'n' Crush by Volmer to illustrate the range of creative inspiration and reference that is shown in the works presented.

“Narrative - sometimes invented/fanciful, sometimes historical, always evocative - guides the artists in their idiosyncratic directions,” said Tolnick Champa.

More than 20 works showcased will include figurative sculpture in porcelain, abstract sculpture in porcelain and metal, mixed media drawing, artist's books, painting and relief sculpture, all with a great deal of textural contrast. An illustrated brochure accompanies the exhibition.

Gallery Talks will be held Sept. 21, 12-1 pm with Volmer and on Sept. 28, 1 - 2 pm, with Muirhead in conjunction with the URI Multicultural Center's Diversity Week. A closing reception will be held on Sept. 28, 4-6 p.m.

For more information, call the Fine Arts Center Galleries at 874-2627.

Commentary about "Speaking Volumes," by Curator Judith Tolnick Champa

The exhibiting artists "speak volumes" as they penetrate manifestations of the natural world and idiosyncratically process its indelible traces. In an exhibition encompassing figurative sculpture in porcelain, abstract sculpture in porcelain and metal, mixed media drawing, artist's books, painting and relief sculpture, there is a great deal of textural contrast but many reciprocating "voicings" as well.

All of the artists cultivate exaggerated patinas, skins or coverings that are warmly expressive of interior volumes or of a personal history. All suggest in various media and techniques a sense of embeddedness and frequently a peeling relief exposing dense layers. Significantly, the organic becomes image, medium and metaphor in all of the two and three-dimensional objects on view.

But there is still another bond between and among the artists whose works will be brought together. As the Exhibition Curator stresses in the accompanying illustrated brochure,

The four artists seems propelled by a conviction in Animism, commonly defined as the attribution of "conscious life" and "indwelling spirit" to objects in nature and the phenomena of nature as well as to inanimate objects. Animist sensibility also drives the artists to embrace the sensate knowledge of animals. In various ways, from various directions, the four artists are ever-mindful of, and alert to, a seamless life continuum and are eager to awaken this response in those who receive their work, their viewers.

Each of the artists has a rich and complex tale to tell about the natural world. In telling her own tale through highly distinctive drawings and sculptures that result from intensive direct observation, artist Jane Rosen conjures the recommendations of Leonardo da Vinci, a tremendously influential and imaginative historical mentor. Rosen reminds us that Leonardo described the ever-unpredictable artistic potential in the world(s) out there in even a random encounter with a lowly stain or pattern deposited by nature.

The Renaissance master's recommendation to study nature's humblest telltale marks was a means, he promised, "To arouse the mind to various inventions." To Rosen personally and indeed to all of the "Speaking Volumes" artists to be featured in the upcoming exhibition, the 16th-century master's brilliant thoughts resonate palpably, yet elastically. Leonardo wisely and poetically assessed the freedom of artistic creation, writing that it lies in interpretation derived from the endlessly stimulating observation of details from the natural world. He wrote, And what happens with regard to such walls and variegated stones is just as with the sound of bells, in whose jangle you may find any name or word you choose to imagine.