WILSON, N.C. – The Barton Art Galleries is pleased to announce two new exhibitions: Leslie Fry: ReCreation and Stasis: Motion from Stillness. Both exhibitions offer something previously unseen in the Barton galleries: video.
Leslie Fry: ReCreation and Stasis: Motion from Stillness will open with a reception on Sunday, Feb. 28 from 2 to 4 p.m. Artists Leslie Fry and Michael Wyshock will be present for the opening. This event is open to the public free of charge, and the community is invited to attend. These exhibitions will run through April 2.
Fry’s artwork, displayed in the Virginia Thompson Graves Gallery, can be viewed as a response to humankind’s impact on the environment and how this impact changes over the course of time. Upon entering the gallery, the first work one sees is a large installation extending out from the far wall towards the center of the gallery floor.
The large mass is actually a conglomeration of smaller fragmented sculptures of miniature buildings, human likenesses, tools, trucks, animals, and plant life. The different gray tones of the sculpture create a chiaroscuro effect, almost like a large three-dimensional drawing. One may get the sense they have walked into the carefully arranged remains from a collapsed building or archeological site. But, following the mass back towards its source, all the elements are arranged as though they are spilling forth from a crisp, white wheelbarrow. Inside the wheelbarrow, a video documenting Fry’s creative process along with images of industrialization and nature is playing, evoking themes of regeneration.
This installation, titled Excavating Shadows, is used by Fry as a jumping-off point for creating her artworks. It represents the beginning of a cyclical process of creation, destruction, decay, and rejuvenation. “I am looking at visions of destruction in our ever-changing world,” said Fry. “I see possibilities for re-creation and resurrection.”
Along the walls are many relief sculptures mounted into wooden frames resembling shipping crates. The forms and images therein are comprised of similar forms that appear in the installation. An unmistakable reference implied by the crates is some sort of archeological recovery of the debris and preservation of the artifacts.
In front of the back wall on pedestals, recurring images appear again, this time reproduced in gleaming cast bronze. “The work evokes an alchemical and transformative process,” continued Fry. “I am metaphorically creating gold from lead, turning the raw into the refined, bringing shadows into light.”
“This work invokes a sense of growth and change,” said Gerard Lange, director of the Barton Art Galleries. “The work could be viewed as Fry’s response to urbanization or the reclamation following a natural disaster, but there is also a sense that the artist is taking the viewer on her journey of creation: finding beauty in the detritus of past generations, reclaiming those artifacts and then edifying those objects as art.”
Fry holds degrees from the University of Vermont and The Milton Avery Graduate School of the Arts at Bard College. She also attended the Central School of Art and Design in London. Between 1988 and 2002, she taught studio art at the University of Vermont, St. Michael’s College, New College of Florida, and in the M.F.A. program at Vermont College. Fry was born in Montreal, and she divides her time between studios in Winooski, Vt., and St. Petersburg, Fla.
The exhibition Stasis: Motion from Stillness is on view in the Lula E. Rackley Gallery. The artworks in this display are all composed of video but, instead of using video cameras to capture motion in a cinematic way, the artists have used the camera as a still photographer would, motionless and unmoving. The results of the experiments range from pensive meditations and colorful kaleidoscopes to stacks of televisions used like children’s building blocks. Regardless of the content, there is an overwhelming sense of contemplation and meditation that binds the artworks together.
Patrick Holbrook, one of the artists in this exhibition, is an instructor at the School of the Art Institute of Chicago. He uses the human body and peoples’ mannerisms as points of departure. Particularly, the artist is engaged in examining human action and the residue left from that action.
In Markers, Holbrook documents various artifacts used to reserve one’s parking space in the snow-filled streets of Chicago. Waste bins, traffic cones, and other bulky items are placed in the road to reserve the spot until denizens return at the end of the day.
Viewing this string of clips, each of a different scene, each being framed around the subject without camera movement, one can hear the city rising up around the stillness of the artifacts. There is a sense of life and activity, but the inactivity is what really holds the viewer’s attention. “What I am doing is exploring the role of documentation, what is being documented and the documenter,” said Holbrook.
Extents offers a different look at evidence of human activity. In this work, the video reveals several different scenes, one of which is the artist’s shoes, damp with water and resting on a wooden floor beneath a window, the light from which is drying them. This video captures the mundane passage of time revealing the quirkiness of human behavior used to accomplish menial tasks.
Holbrook’s Complicit features two videos playing on different monitors. The first is a compilation of scenes of many people clapping against stark backgrounds; the second video is that of a 1960s era clay-mation lion continuously rising to its feet, applauding an unseen antagonist. A final component of this work is a flip clock mounted to the wall, continually changing its tiles.
Standing before the installation, one is met with a cacophony of clicking, clacking, and clapping. Looking from screen to screen, to the clock and back to the monitors, viewers might catch themselves wanting to clap along with the performers. “The common thread in much of my work is an examination of how people are formed by cultural structure,” said Holbrook. “I am looking at how people resist or play along with what it prescribed to them.”
Another work in the exhibition that presents a contemplative look at the relationship of sound and motion is Meditation on the Last Storm of Winter on Lake Superior, by Barton College’s photography professor Gerard Lange. The video depicts storm clouds overhead with rough waves breaking on a jetty, the water rolling onto a pebbled beach. The work is actually a montage of several videos collaged together in the way one might construct a panoramic landscape photograph.
“I wanted to document my favorite spot in northern Michigan, before moving back to the South,” said Lange. “Just like a tourist might document their favorite place, I wanted to capture a wide-angled view of the landscape. This location provided me with a respite from daily hurriedness. I would sit on those pebbles, meditate on the sound and motion of the water and allow my mind to wander.”
Michael Wyshock, the third artist in the exhibition, is a professor at the University of Central Arkansas. His works, although shot from motionless cameras, offer a more non-objective form of video compared to the documentary projects of Lange and Holbrook.
In his Moving Paintings, Wyshock presents a kaleidoscope of color, pulsing back and forth from the center of the projected video. In this work, the artist videos paint, fuels, and pollutants being poured across a surface. He then slices the scene into sections and edits the imagery, forming multiple layers while creating the fractured ebb and flow of color. “My process relies on compositional deconstruction and the rebuilding of visual representations,” shared Wyshock.
A second projected video work by Wyshock shines down from the ceiling into a large shallow tank of water filled with pieces of broken glass. When the video hits the glass, the light is dispersed, and the tank comes to life with motion and color. Gazing into the work is like looking into a crystal ball. One becomes entranced by the desire to find order in the chaos of the shards.
Wyshock uses this aspect of the work to influence his abstract paintings, which he then, in turn, uses as inspiration for other video works. “Watching the disjointed video imagery reveals new combinations of shapes and lines,’ he said. “The canvas and computer become involved in a perpetual dialogue.”
Stasis is the first all-video exhibition to be displayed at Barton College. “This is an important moment for the gallery,” said Lange. “The art world is evolving and has begun to use the fourth dimension – time. Time-based media is a fine art interpretation of tradition video. It is documentary and exploratory in the same instant.”
The concept of the exhibition was first put forth several years ago, and it has taken a long time to organize. Equipment in the display was loaned by The Wilson Times Company, Barton College’s offices of Student Affairs and Career Services, the Willis N. Hackney Library, and Wilson Glass & Mirror, Inc. Many people from the greater Wilson community also donated television sets to be used in the exhibit.
Gallery hours are Monday-Friday from 10 a.m. to 3 p.m., with the exception of holidays. Barton College will be closed from March 15-19 for spring break. For additional information, please contact Gerard Lange, director of exhibitions, at 252-399-6475 or email email@example.com.
Questions? Please contact Kathy Daughety, director of public relations, at 252-399-6529 or email: firstname.lastname@example.org.