September 17, 2009
Cantor showcases Stanford faculty artists, photographers, sculptors, printmakers and filmmakers
For Lukas Felzmann, great photos don't happen in a moment. They are the result of "extended attention and receptiveness."
The art lecturer is one among a baker's dozen of faculty artists, photographers, printmakers, sculptors and filmmakers from the Department of Art and Art History who are exhibiting their works in "From Their Studios" through Jan. 3 at the Iris & B. Gerald Cantor Center for Visual Arts.
"There's some pretty exciting work being done by these faculty members that's not often seen by the public in Palo Alto and on campus," said Patience Young, curator for education and co-curator of the exhibition with Thomas Seligman, the Cantor Arts Center's Freidenrich Director.
"The work is all very different," she said. "They range from Xiaoze Xie, who is just arriving on campus to teach, to Matt Kahn, who has the longest teaching record in the history of Stanford." The art professor has taught at Stanford since 1949. She noted that some of the artists have international reputations.
For photographer Felzmann, creation is a dynamic process: "After I expose a photograph I carry two latent images with me," he wrote in a statement for the exhibition. The one on film he puts in his pocket: "a faint impression of silver halides, an actual touching of light and materials, waiting to be activated by chemicals, warmth and motion." The other is locked in his memory: "a moment that I lived, a position in relationship to my surroundings, seen and marked with the opening of an aperture."
And ne'er the twain shall meet, but the attempt to connect them is nevertheless "the privilege and pleasure of the artist." His mysterious gelatin silver print of House, Farallon Islands, on the islands and rocks off the coast of San Francisco, is a successful marriage of the two.
Clearly, artistic creation doesn't follow a straight line. It certainly wasn't so for Kahn, whose own explorations began in the 1960s, when he was teaching at Stanford in Italy.
"I encountered a stack of oval portrait canvases in a local Florentine art supply store. Given my ongoing interest in tribal and folk art, masks in particular, I saw these panels not as backgrounds, or trays upon which faces might be served, but rather as the faces themselves," he wrote. "Out of this grew discs and other shapes, topographical forms with depressions or projects and, ultimately, multiple structures."
Art lecturer John Edmark echoes a similar thought: "If change is the only constant of nature, it is written in the language of geometry." His circles and spirals show "the surprising structures hidden within apparently amorphous space" in "a continuing pursuit of the timeless patterns of change."
But line, shape and form aren't the only motivators. The driving question for artist Kevin Bean is: "How does one use paint to talk about human experience?" The art lecturer praises the "joy of vision" in works that are "a constant balancing act of intention, discovery and process" – as in his Jesus, Abraham and Maria oil painting.
Art Professor Enrique Chagoya, who grew up in Mexico City and worked with peasants in a rural development project, says his art is "a product of collisions between historical visions, ancient and modern, marginal and dominant paradigms." The culture clashes are evident in his colorful Illegal Aliens Guide to America.
Gail Wight said that, in her attempts to understand life, she has made maps of various nervous systems, practiced art under hypnosis, conducted biochemical experiments on herself and volunteers, documented dissected humans, painted with slime mold, and made music with mice and drawings with bones.
Wight, an associate professor of art and art history whose video Living on Air is included in the exhibition, said her work is an interplay between art, biology, theories of evolution and other balancing acts between science and art as she asks: "In what way do we resemble worms? Is a machine more or less reliable due to its lack of endorphins, emotions and opiate addictions? Can an artist collaborate with other species? What does compassion look like at the neuroanatomical level?"
Additionally, the exhibition marks the Stanford debut of art Professor Xiaoze Xie, whose large oil painting December 23, 2004. N.Y.T. (Casualties) is included in the exhibition. His work, which has been featured in the New York Times and the New Yorker, explores the fragmentation in our perception of world events and the vulnerability of historical meaning.
Young said the exhibition is "an opportunity to bring to public attention the work of current art faculty, to showcase some of the studio work done here and to suggest the teaching environment that these faculty members offer their students."
Other faculty members exhibiting in "From Their Studios" include Kristine Samuelson, Terry Berlier, Robert Dawson, Paul DeMarinis, Jan Krawitz, Joel Leivick, and Jamie Meltzer.
"From Their Studios" is offered in alliance with the Arts Initiative on campus, said Young. The Arts Initiative aims to foster a systematic culture of creativity at Stanford, linking the arts to virtually every field of study, including engineering, sciences, social sciences, law and medicine.
The Cantor Arts Center is open Wednesday through Sunday, 11 a.m. to 5 p.m.; Thursday until 8 p.m. Admission is free.
A lecture series, free and open to the public, will be held in the Cantor Arts Center auditorium. The filmmakers' lectures are preceded by a screening of one of their films. A complete schedule for the series is online at the museum website.
High-resolution photos are available at the Cantor Arts Center FTP site, http://www.stanford.edu/dept/suma/news_room/documents/photos/From_Their_Studios/. For questions about the FTP site, contact Anna Koster.