DANBURY, CONN. — Twelve women in the visual and literary arts who completed residencies at the Vermont Studio Center within the past five years will exhibit their works in the multi-media show, “Women’s Work,” to be presented from Thursday, Jan. 26, through Sunday, March 12, 2017, at Western Connecticut State University.
An opening reception for the artists and writers will be held at 6 p.m. on Thursday, Jan. 26, in the Art Gallery at the WCSU Visual and Performing Arts Center, 43 Lake Ave. Extension in Danbury, with a snow date at the same time on Thursday, Feb. 2. The exhibition will be on view during gallery hours from noon to 4 p.m. Tuesday through Thursday and from 1 to 4 p.m. Saturday and Sunday. Cosponsors for the exhibition are the Department of Art and the Office of Diversity, Equity and Multicultural Affairs.
The exhibition will feature poetry and prose pieces, paintings, prints, sculptures, mixed-media works and installation art. Gallery visitors will be invited to read and listen to text and audio selections from works by the participating writers while viewing the works of visual art. Through the diverse art forms presented in the exhibition, the artists embrace and challenge gender roles and stereotypes often associated with women’s work.
Artists whose works will be shown in the exhibition include Nina Buxenbaum, Lauren Cotton, Elizabeth Dexheimer, Camille Eskell, Tracy Walter Ferry, Lori Glavin, Deborah Hesse and Sarah Tortora. Featured writers include Mindi Englart, Nalini Jones, Joan Seliger Sidney and Monica Ong. Buxenbaum and Ferry will address the theme, “Cross-cultural Perspectives on Women, Race and Identity,” in an artist talk to be presented in the Art Gallery at 6:30 p.m. on Tuesday, Feb. 22, with a snow date at the same time on Wednesday, March 1.
Reservations to attend the opening reception and artist talk should be made online at www.wcsuvpac.eventbrite.com. Admission to the reception, artist talk and exhibition will be free and the public is invited; donations to support the programs of the Department of Art will be accepted.
Following are biographical and artist notes for the women whose works will be featured in the exhibition:
- Nina Buxenbaum received her M.F.A. at the Maryland Institute College of Art and is an associate professor and co-coordinator of fine arts at York College of the City University of New York. Her paintings, drawings and mixed-media works have been shown in nine solo exhibitions and more than 40 group and juried exhibitions across the United States. “As an African-American woman of mixed heritage,” Buxenbaum said, “I approach my work as an opportunity to position women of color in the Western art canon where we have been conspicuously absent.” She noted that a recurring theme in her artistic portrayals of women is the search for personal identity, exploring the conflict between “the internal self and the self we project to the world. As I continue to paint these women, I find deeper layers that tell more complex stories about who we are and who we pretend to be.”
- Lauren Cotton holds an M.F.A. from the Temple University Tyler School of Art and has presented her sculptures and installations in eight solo exhibitions and 12 group exhibitions across the eastern and central United States. Cotton’s artist statement observed that the place and architectural space for her exhibitions contribute to defining her works, which use materials such as scrap wood, vinyl, paints, woven textiles, photographs, masks and other materials to explore the interactions of color, shape and pattern in three dimensions. “With each new environment, my works’ form, color and composition alter and expose a structural framework of physiological and psychological possibilities,” she said.
- Elizabeth Dexheimer pursued studies at Oberlin College in Ohio and the School of Visual Arts and Parsons School of Design in New York, and now maintains a painting studio in Washington, Connecticut. Her paintings and works on paper have been shown widely throughout the eastern United States, and are held in numerous private and corporate collections including the holdings of Frontier Communications, J. W. Marriott, Ritz Carlton and United People’s Bank. Her artist statement described the inspiration she draws from “the illusory and transcendent qualities of light and atmosphere” and from the intangible qualities of the ethereal that convey “the feeling of limitlessness and forever in the far view.” The frequent use of water imagery in her works explores “the ambiguity of reflections and the contrast between flow and stasis.” Her works range from the limited palette of a few colors in many of her paintings to the bold and deep saturation of colors typical of her monotype prints.
- Mindi Englart received her master’s degree from Wesleyan University and teaching certification from Yale University, and has taught creative writing at Cooperative Arts and Humanities Magnet School in New Haven for more than 15 years. She was the founding editor of the literary magazine Etcetera and is the author of 12 nonfiction books for children as well as numerous poems, short stories and academic publications. Public presentations of her literary work have included a staged reading of the play, “The Lucretia Society,” which she coauthored as an exploration of sexual violence against women. Her book art has been featured in shows at the Grove, the Haas Family Arts Library and the Tiny Gallery at Creative Arts Workshop in New Haven.
- Camille Eskell received her M.F.A. from Queens College at CUNY and maintains a studio in the greater New York area. She has earned critical acclaim for her diverse body of work — including paintings, drawings, photo-based imagery and mixed-media sculptures — that has been shown widely in solo and group exhibitions across the United States and in Wales, Mexico and South America. Her pieces are held in public and private collections including the Chrysler Museum of Art, MOMA/Wales, the Housatonic Museum of Art, the Islip Art Museum and the Westport Permanent Collection. “As the third girl in a turbulent Iraqi Jewish family from Bombay, I felt compelled to explore the psychological legacy that shaped my perceptions, indentity and motivations,” her artist statement said. “My work examines these cultural and family dynamics, with themes of vulnerability, rebirth, gender relationships and social convention.”
- Tracy Walter Ferry worked for 10 years as a registered nurse at hospitals and corporate medical departments in New York, New Jersey and the Caribbean before embarking on a second career as an artist and earning her M.F.A. from the Hartford Art School at the University of Hartford. Ferry’s eclectic use of materials to create her sculptures ranges the gamut from scrap metal and nails, plastic soldiers and baby bottle nipples to fabrics, photos, videos and MRI and X-ray imagery. “As a registered nurse, I have seen what is hidden inside our bodies, which has enabled me to create these abstracted portraits,” she said. “In the world of science, a gene can be taken from one organism and implanted in another, completely changing the original structure. In my work, I explore all of the organisms that result when you haphazardly combine these genes.”
- Lori Glavin earned her B.F.A. from the Syracuse University School of Visual and Performing Arts and worked for more than a decade as a graphic designer and art director for numerous corporations including Conde Nast Publications, McCall’s magazine and her own design firm in New York. For the past 20 years, she has shifted her artistic focus to creative work in painting, printmaking and collage, exhibiting widely across the northeastern and southwestern United States. An artist member of the Silvermine Guild in New Canaan, she co-founded the Wilson Avenue Loft Artists community of studios in Norwalk in 2007. “My work is inspired by the visual clatter of the mundane places I know best, the domestic environment or the tilted landscape of my weekend garden,” her artist statement said. “My paintings are spontaneous and intuitive; I work without a plan and embrace the happy accident. With collage-like scraps of form and color, I retell my story with embellishments and edits.”
- Deborah Hesse holds a bachelor’s degree from Smith College and a master’s degree in painting and printmaking from the University of New Mexico, where she also served as a fellow at the Tamarind Institute of Lithography. Recent recognitions for her installation art works have included award of an International Artist-in-Residence position in Busan, South Korea, as well as artist grants in Connecticut, Rhode Island and Vermont. Hesse’s installations combine organic and artificial materials and forms with cast and painted shadows, creating parallel environments of hybrid construction and ephemeral nature that seek to inspire exploration of the material and the ethereal.
- Nalini Jones, a Rhode Island native and daughter of an immigrant mother from India, earned a bachelor’s degree from Amherst College and an M.F.A. from Columbia University before making her literary debut as author of the short story collection, “What You Call Winter,” published in 2007. Her fiction work also has appeared in One Story, Elle India, the Ontario Review and the Creative Nonfiction Living Issue, and her essays have been published in Freud’s Blind Spot and AIDS Sutra. A writing instructor at the 92nd Street YMCA in New York and in the graduate writing program at Fairfield University, Jones currently is at work on a novel and has worked for several years in music production at festivals and concert series. In her author statement for “What You Call Winter,” a collection of stories about families in a fictional Catholic neighborhood in the suburbs of Mumbai, she remarked that she has a strong interest in the impact of migration and distance and how it affects families, “whether people are flung across the globe or living under the same roof. When I began to explore these questions in fiction, I realized that the characters were all connected to a place, partly remembered, partly imagined, partly mythical.”
- Monica Ong earned an M.F.A. in digital media at the Rhode Island School of Design and currently is the user experience designer for the Yale Digital Humanities Lab. Ong was named a Kundiman Poetry Fellow, awarded as part of a program dedicated to the creation and cultivation of Asian American literature. For more than a decade, Ong has exhibited her eclectic mixed-media works combining digital graphics, photo and X-ray images, printed poetry text and other imagery at exhibitions in the United States and abroad. Her poetry has been published in literary journals and her debut collection released in 2015, “Silent Anatomies,” was chosen by poet Joy Harjo as winner of the Kore Press First Book Award. “This unique poetry collection is a kind of graphic poetry book. Poetry unfurls within, outside and through images that establish stark bridges between ancestor and descendant time and presence,” Harjo wrote.
- Joan Seliger Sidney is a Brooklyn native who earned a master’s degree in teaching from Harvard University, an M.F.A. in writing from Vermont College, and a Ph.D. from the University of Connecticut. She has published three poetry collections and numerous children’s books, and her works have been featured in seven anthologies as well as several periodicals. She also is a Writer-in-Residence at the UConn Center for Judaic Studies and Contemporary Jewish Life. In biographical notes on her website, she observed, “As a second-generation Holocaust survivor, it’s important to bear witness to all that was lost,” a recurring theme in her writings. She noted that her continuing challenge “to make peace and live well with chronic-progressive multiple sclerosis” and her love of family also have shaped the themes of her poetry and her picture books for children.
- Sarah Tortora received her bachelor’s degree in studio art at Southern Connecticut State University and her M.F.A. in interdisciplinary fine art from the University of Pennsylvania, with additional studies at the Skowhegan School of Painting and Sculpture. She has served as an adjunct professor of art at Southern and currently is a visiting assistant professor in sculpture at Indiana University. Her installations feature use of a wide range of materials to construct works with bold designs and strong basic colors. Tortora has participated in six solo exhibitions in New England, New York and Tennessee, and more than 20 group exhibitions across the United States. Recent honors have included her selection for the Alice Cole 1942 Fellowship in Studio Art at Wellesley College and an Artist in Residence position at the Webb School of Knoxville.
For more information, contact the Department of Art at (203) 837-8403 or the Office of University Relations at (203) 837-8486.
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