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Scenes from The University of Rhode Island

Speaking Volumes - a focused group exhibition curated by J. Tolnick Champa

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September 6 – 30, 2005

Main Gallery
Fine Arts Center Galleries, University Of Rhode Island

Fidelity Investments is a major sponsor of the Fall 2005 Season

KINGSTON, R.I. -- August 31, 2005 -- The works of four remarkable artists are united in the focused group exhibition opening this June in the premier Main Gallery, Fine Arts Center Galleries. Tricia Cline (Woodstock, Vermont), Deborah Muirhead (Storrs, Connecticut), Jane Rosen (San Gregorio, California) and Suzanne Volmer (Lincoln, Rhode Island) are clearly geographically diverse and they were not acquainted prior to this exhibition. But there is never the less a pronounced kinship of creative process, a like-minded endeavor about their projects. Judith Tolnick Champa, Exhibition Curator, identifies that special kinship in this exhibition she calls “Speaking Volumes.”

Whether abstract or representational in nature, the works in this exhibition “speak volumes” spatially and metaphorically. There is a seriousness in the artists’ sense of address, a meaningfulness in their purposeful enterprise as accomplished sculptors, painters, makers of artist’s books. A sampling of several titles for works featured - The Exile and The-Path-of-the-Mouse Arrive, The Conjurer’s Apprentice, First Wheel and Peel ‘n’ Crush – signals the passions and range of creative inspiration and reference that is plentifully in evidence in the nearly 20 works to be showcased.

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.

As exhibition viewers also will appreciate, 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.

An illustrated brochure accompanies the exhibition.

Gallery Talk by Suzanne Volmer
September 21, 12-1 pm

Gallery Talk by Deborah Muirhead
In conjunction with the URI Multicultural Center’s Diversity Week programming
September 28, 1 – 2 pm

Closing Reception
September 28, 4-6 pm

Attention tour leaders:
Gallery tours to small supervised groups may be arranged
by phoning 874.2627 weekdays, 8:30 – 4:30 pm.

Exhibition hours are T – F, noon – 4 pm & Saturday – Sunday, 1 – 4 pm
The Galleries are closed on federal and local holidays.

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