Purdue News

August 16, 2006

Purdue Galleries offers new season of the bizarre and the beatific

WEST LAFAYETTE, Ind. — The first exhibition in the Purdue University Galleries new season is intended to examine the after-effects and visual residue of the sideshow as interpreted by a group of 14 contemporary artists.

"Alive Inside: The Lure and Lore of the Sideshow,"
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"Alive Inside: The Lure and Lore of the Sideshow" will be presented Aug. 28 to Oct. 8. in both the Robert L. Ringel Gallery in Purdue Memorial Union and the Stewart Center Gallery.

The Halsey Institute of Contemporary Art at the College of Charleston in South Carolina produced "Alive Inside."

While the sideshow is no longer a common attraction, Mark Sloan, exhibition curator and Halsey director, said "its legacy lives on in the work of these artists who use the historic sideshow as muse or point of departure. Humans share a universal and insatiable need to want to learn more about the lives of people we perceive to be different from ourselves."

Woodblock print
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"In his classic book 'Freaks,' cultural critic Leslie Fiedler suggests that we are fascinated with the people of the sideshow because they represent our 'shadow selves.' The idea that we could be spectators to some aspect of our own personality on stage is a compelling reason to step up to witness what is 'Alive Inside.'"

The 14 artists selected for this exhibition each approach the sideshow from a different perspective, said Craig Martin, director of Purdue Galleries.

On display will be photos and ephemera pertaining to the life of sideshow performer Johnny Eck — "The Half-Man" by Jeffrey Pratt Gordon; contemporary banners by David Boatwright, Kevin House, J.D. Wilkes and Max Rada Dada; ceramics and marionette forms by Kurt Webb and Melody Ellis; fictional composite taxidermy mounts by Sarina Brewer; clothing and accessories for fictional sideshow performers by Andrea Mai Lekberg; drawings by James Mundie; woodblock prints by Kreg Yingst; graphic art by Joe Petro and Madame Talbot; and Leigh Magar's headgear made in response to the sideshow.

At 5:30 p.m. Sept. 7, Halsey director Sloan will present a lecture in the Stewart Center Gallery on the exhibit and his research on the continuing lure and lore of the sideshow in American culture. Receptions will follow the lecture in both the Ringel and Stewart Center galleries.

On Sept. 27 at 5:30 p.m., Elizabeth K. Mix, a contemporary art historian at Butler University, will present a lecture on the influence of the sideshow on contemporary and postmodern art. A reception in Stewart Center Gallery will follow the lecture.

Future exhibits include:

• "Spirit Made Tangible: The Scheuring Icon Collection" (Oct. 23 to Dec. 3) in the Ringel Gallery. The permanent collection of Purdue University Galleries is now home to one of the largest private Orthodox Christian icon collections in the country, thanks to a gift of 132 Russian and Ethiopian religious icons from Katherine "Betsy" Scheuring. Russian iconography combines theological, aesthetic and technical considerations into powerful and intimate objects of beauty and devotion. Scheuring's gift has made it possible for a wide audience to have access to these icons, whether they are spiritually inspired, curious to learn more about Russia's political history, or captivated by their fine craftsmanship, Martin said.

• "Nature Rehearsed: Works by Richard J. Krueger and Ronald Leax" (Oct. 23 to Dec. 3) in the Stewart Center Gallery. Richard Krueger and Ronald Leax, both art faculty at Washington University in St. Louis, incorporate the images, processes and even the materials of science into art constructions that mimic biological sciences, the realms of fantasy and laboratories. Krueger suggests that the sciences of artifice, including reality simulation and gene manipulation, have revivified reality as theater. His photographic constructions illustrate a world of fantastic invention and extrapolation upon the natural world, Martin said. Leax creates fantasy laboratories/large-scale sculptural constructions to illustrate the investigations of the laboratory; the interpretations of the art studio; and the coherence sought in the temple.

• "Global Matrix II" (Jan. 8 to Feb. 18) in both the Ringel and Stewart Center galleries. From its humble origins as simple relief rubbings or patterns stamped onto paper and cloth, the art of the print has spread to all corners of the globe, growing and developing conceptually. It has served as an instrument of revolution and democratic change and as a fine art form of limitless potential. This exhibit presents a contemporary review of fine art printmaking in all media from around the world. The first installment of the exhibit was presented in 2002 and featured works from 19 countries. Global Matrix II will debut at Purdue Galleries and will then travel to other art venues in the United States through 2008.

• "Ekphrasis: Writing on the Collection" (March 5 to April 22) in the Ringel Gallery. Ekphrasis is a term used to denote poetry or poetic writing concerning itself with the visual arts, artistic objects and/or highly visual scenes. Purdue Galleries is sponsoring an opportunity for writers to compose creative writing in response to objects from the permanent collection. Those writings will be featured alongside the artworks in this exhibition. The exhibit will provide inspiration to young writers on campus and will be used as a springboard to introduce creative writing in local K-12 curriculum. In addition, the project will highlight the work of more accomplished writers and present artworks from the collection under a new light with a fresh interpretation.

• "Discontinuum: Photographs by Jane Calvin" (March 5 to April 22) in the Stewart Center Gallery. Densely layered, darkly seductive and neon-lurid, Jane Calvin's photographs create and recreate references to the memories, impulses and fantasies that tug at the edges of our conscious minds. Her images are created by montaging projected imagery and found objects into room-sized assemblages, which she then photographs in color. Imagery and text fragments gleaned from popular culture, along with dolls, dresses and other props, all conspire to reflect and blur demarcations between evil and innocence, fact and fiction, Martin said. The images can be seen as a commentary on the political and social roles projected onto a society whose desires, manipulated by language and image, conflict with concerns of gender, sexuality, race and female identity.

On Sept. 12, Purdue Galleries will hold its sixth annual Art Teacher Professional Day. Art teachers in area K-12 programs are invited for a daylong session describing the upcoming year of exhibitions and events, a presentation on the "Alive Inside" exhibit on display at that time, an introduction to the next participatory exhibit, "Ekphrasis: Writing on the Collection," discussions of the potential for Galleries involvement in on-site class presentations and a discussion of the Galleries ArtBridge initiative.

The Robert L. Ringel Gallery and the Stewart Center Gallery are open 10 a.m. to 5 p.m. Monday through Saturday; from 10 a.m. to 8 p.m. on Thursday; and from 1-5 p.m. on Sunday. For class or group visits, contact Mary Ann Anderson at (765) 496-7899. All Purdue Galleries exhibitions and events are free and open to the public.

Writer: Kim Medaris, (765) 494-6998, kmedaris@purdue.edu

Source: Craig Martin, (765) 494-3061, cdmartin@purdue.edu

Purdue News Service: (765) 494-2096; purduenews@purdue.edu

Gil Shuler Design created this logo for "Alive Inside: The Lure and Lore of the Sideshow," which will be presented Aug. 28 to Oct. 8 in both the Robert L. Ringel Gallery in Purdue Memorial Union and the Stewart Center Gallery. The exhibit was produced by the Halsey Institute of Contemporary Art at the College of Charleston in South Carolina. (Logo courtesy of Gil Shuler Design)

A publication-quality photo is available at http://news.uns.purdue.edu/images/+2006/martin-season1.jpg

This woodblock print by Kreg Yingst is one of the exhibits that will make up "Alive Inside: The Lure and Lore of the Sideshow," which will be presented Aug. 28 to Oct. 8 in both the Robert L. Ringel Gallery in Purdue Memorial Union and the Stewart Center Gallery. (Photo courtesy of Kreg Yingst)

A publication-quality photo is available at http://news.uns.purdue.edu/images/+2006/martin-season2.jpg


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