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Scenes from The University of Rhode Island

URI Fine Arts Center Galleries - 4 PROJECTS by Barbara Westermann

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September 6 – October 7, 2005
Corridor Gallery

Fidelity Investments is a major sponsor of the Fall 2005 Season


Kingston -- August 29, 2005 -- Surveillance cameras, navigational tools, as well as devices for measuring, transmitting, and broadcasting -- antennas, towers, satellite dishes and loudspeakers -- are the suggestive visual, and conceptual languages spoken by Barbara Westermann in her 4 PROJECTS exhibition, opening this fall at the University of Rhode Island.


The German-born, Berlin and New York trained artist will be using the appropriately “controlled” spaces of the insistently linear Corridor Gallery to showcase four evocative projects she has devised for public consumption around the world, from her native Germany to her adopted Rhode Island.


Borderlands, Observatory, Radio Nurse, and Progressive are the four complementary projects to be represented in her latest exhibition. They are a series of discrete assemblages designed specifically for viewing through vitrines; that is, the shallow glass-fronted showcases of the Corridor Gallery. The essential motifs of these public projects will be translated and portrayed as creative, compressed, sculptural reliefs, related both to classical Assyrian bas-relief and to the textual storyboard modeling of contemporary architectural firms.


Barbara Westermann’s projects in general have been characterized typologically into three separate, but mutually informative arenas: Information Architecture, Architectural Sculpture, and Interior Architecture. But each facet of her work is socially conscious or better, pro-social change. While her work is formally minimalist and conceptual it has rightly been called “social sculpture.” As viewers will discover, Westermann’s work deals flexibly with concepts of space and time and the dynamic relationships of physical and metaphorical, near and far, public and private, inward and outward and past, present and future. Westermann stimulates and motivates her audience to consider a range of viewpoints that diverge from expected solutions.

Westermann, who was trained in architecture and urban planning at the Gesamthochschule in Kassel, Germany, met the legendary sculptor Joseph Beuys while a student and contributed to his 1982 Documenta project by planting some of his "7000 Oaks." She ascribes to Beuys’ philosophy that integrates private passions with public art making, a combination she has inflected with much energy and creativity over some 25 years. Beyond Beuys, she maintains that a feminist and Social Democratic impulse must infuse the work of art.

In Cologne, Westermann earned her master’s degree in Sculpture with Daniel Spoerri, a member of the French New Realism group that in 1960 called for integrating cast-off materials into art (Christo, so well known for his Gates project last winter in Central Park, was a young artist then close to Spoerri’s group). The city of Berlin has been another muse, where Westermann is currently working on a project called Borderlands that addresses the physical and historical spaces of the Berlin Wall. She attended the Whitney Museum Independent Study Program and the School of Visual Arts Teacher Education Program in New York , where she spent many productive years and maintains an active art life.

Westermann developed rapidly as an artist in her own right and today exhibits widely, including solo shows at the La Jolla Museum of Contemporary Art in California, the Freiburg Contemporary Art Museum in Germany, Clay Street Press Gallery in Cincinnati, OH, Brown University in Providence, RI, Au Base, A.R.T., and Momenta Art galleries in New York. Group shows include the current Multiple Strategies exhibition at the Contemporary Arts Center in Cincinnati, the Holly Solomon and Ronald Feldman galleries, PS1, Dia Art and the Whitney Biennial in New York, as well as the Newport and Bristol Art Museums and Lenore Gray Gallery in Rhode Island. Westermann has just installed a piece in the Progressive Art Collection in Cleveland, and is preparing a show for the Wheeler Art Gallery in Providence.

She collaborates frequently with her husband, the activist poet and artist Bill Allen, including numerous editions with Mark Patsfall Graphics. They also curate an online “social sculpture” gallery called Living Room. Westermann has received awards from Art Matters, the Pollock-Krasner Foundation, the Utica Sculpture Space and a RISCA Fellowship in Sculpture. Her work can be visited at www.barbarawestermann.com.

Gallery Hours are daily, 9 am – 9 pm.

September 14, 12 – 1 pm
Brown Bag Gallery Talk by the artist

September 28, 4 - 6 pm
Reception for the artist

Fidelity Investments (add logo) is the major sponsor
of the Fall, 2005 season, Fine Arts Center Galleries.

All programs of the Fine Arts Center Galleries are open to the public without charge. All are handicapped accessible.