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Scenes from The University of Rhode Island

NAMING GAME: a body of work by JILL MOSER

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Fine Arts Center Galleries, University of Rhode Island

SEPTEMBER 5-30, 2006

”A diptych is any object with two flat plates attached at a hinge. Devices of this form were quite popular in the ancient world, types existing for recording notes and for measuring time and direction. The term is also used figuratively for a thematically-linked sequence of two books….One form of diptych was like a shallow box. It had two wooden leaves with hollows on the inside edges, filled with wax, and space for a small wooden scriber. This permitted one to take waterproof notes in the wax…”
—From Wikipedia, the online encyclopedia

Kingston, RI—Guided by many playful, evocative, “word pairs” invented for her interpretation by invited poets, writers and critic friends, New York artist Jill Moser has created a buoyant series of “image pairs” in diptych format. While modern and contemporary painters frequently employ two adjacent surfaces for one continuous work of art, the diptych format has ancient origins, as the Wikipedia Encyclopedia entry excerpted above emphasizes. Originally, the diptych form was significantly aligned with a specific content--the act of writing. Moser intelligently conjures the ancient as well as the modern connotations of the diptych form in her NAMING GAME project.

Hers is an extraordinary body of large-scale oil on canvas paintings, smaller drawings and also photo collages bearing suggestive and always playful, “double-edged” names such as Tender Ransom and First Hand. Subverting the usual ponderous process of titling (naming), the artist and her critics before the fact are determined to “keep things loose, discursive, to acknowledge both flux and a temporary stoppage.” (Lilly Wei, art writer, in the catalogue accompanying this exhibition). Therefore Moser painted, so to speak, into titles that were presented to her as pre-existent word pairs. For Jill Moser and her writer-collaborators, as Lilly Wei explains, “The Naming Game is a felicitous combination of the open and the closed, of chance, a system of chance, volition and the constantly renewable.”

Jill Moser earned her MFA degree from Hunter College, New York and her BA from Brown University, Providence. She has shown her work to critical acclaim since 1983, predominantly in venues across the northeast, with emphasis on New York City. Moser’s one-person shows also have taken place in Houston, Texas; London, England; Richmond, Virginia; Atlanta, Georgia; Columbus, Ohio and Lima, Peru. Additionally, Moser has developed a record of notable group exhibitions and her work has entered the public collections of major museums as well as corporate and private collections. Not surprisingly, Moser has garnered an impressive bibliography along the way.

Jill Moser has taught at the School of Visual Arts and Princeton University, SUNY New Paltz and SUNY Empire State College. She has also been a devoted Visiting Artist. Moser first spoke publicly at the University of Rhode Island in 1996 in conjunction with the two-artist exhibition called Figuration Forward: Jill Moser/Catherine Lee, curated by Judith Tolnick, and she returned again in 2002 to speak behind the scenes with URI art classes.

On Wednesday, September 27, from 4 - 6:30 pm, A Public Conversation on Artistic Collaboration with Jill Moser will be led by D. Salem Smith, the celebrated writer.

Smith’s Boots on the Ground had its world premiere at Trinity Repertory Company in Providence this Spring. Smith is currently writing a comedy based on the multiple thefts of a single Johannes Vermeer painting. Smith (MFA, Creative Writing, University of Michigan; BA, Princeton University) and her partner Christine Montross were among the writers who provided word pair titles to Moser for her NAMING GAME project. Bloom Shadow was their contribution to the artist and this haunting work will be on view in the Main Gallery.

Smith and Moser will discuss the ways in which collaboration in the arts may be fruitfully generated. This timely topic, addressed by a committed writer and painter, will be of interest to students and practitioners of the visual and performing arts and to anyone involved in the humanities today. In our period of cross- and inter-disciplinary study, and in the mixed media that surround all of us, the resonance between the visual and verbal is felt acutely in our lives, if increasingly ambiguously.

NAMING GAME was initiated by 1708 Gallery, Richmond, Virginia and its catalogue made possible in part with funding provided by the Warhol Foundation for the Visual Arts. Exhibition contents are appropriately elastic, as seen in various guises at 1708 Gallery, Richmond, Westby Gallery, Rowan University, Glassboro, NJ and the Fine Arts Center Galleries, University of Rhode Island, Kingston.

Main Gallery hours
Tuesday – Friday, noon – 4 p.m.
Saturday and Sunday, 1 – 4 p.m.

The FINE ARTS CENTER GALLERIES are open to the public without charge
and are handicapped accessible.
The Galleries are closed on federal and local holidays.