Tarble opens new exhibits before end of semester

Angelica Cataldo, Entertainment Reporter


As the fall semester concludes, new art exhibits are beginning at The Tarble Arts Center for the upcoming spring semester.

Friday, Nov. 18 marked the opening of several new exhibits: “P.S.” by Eli Craven; “Vessels of Genealogies” by Firelei Báez; the Blackbox Series “Phantasmagoria” with the hybrid films of Ranu Mukherjee; and “Reaching Into Infinity” featuring Chul Hyun Ahn.

Rehema Barber, the director and chief curator for the Tarble Arts Center, said new exhibits are not usually on full display before the end of a semester.

However, this year Barber opened the exhibits earlier to give faculty and staff members the chance to see the exhibits without having to work around their normally busy schedule.

Barber said the exhibits all relate to the theme of nature, both human and natural.

This theme is a secular idea that Tarble is trying to connect each artist’s work to.

On Thursday Nov. 17, Báez and Ortiz were part of a public lecture hosted at Tarble to talk about Báez’s work and kick off the new exhibit.

Báez’s work reflects on individuals and their journey through racial, political and cultural boundaries, focusing on individuals from the Dominican Republic, where she was born.

“These pieces are about redefining resistance and renegotiating what’s good and what’s bad,” Báez said. “These are things that are part of who we are.”

Some of her pieces serve as artistic commentary on Dominican and Haitian relations throughout history.

Her work contains collages and large pieces made with ink, paint, books and pictures. In some of her work, she takes images of prominent figures in history and combines them with elaborate drawings or collages.

“(My work) is like surrogate bodies for these figures in history,” Báez said. “I like to work with figures, like they are all pawns in a larger, broader context.”

This exhibit is co-curated by María Elena Ortiz, assistant curator for the Perez Art Museum Miami. Ortiz is also the curator of Báez’s nationwide traveling exhibition, “Bloodlines.”

Craven’s exhibit is part of this year’s Artist in Education Residency and features several photographs and images he has found in thrift stores, estate sales and books, along with photographs he has taken himself.

“(I worked with) shifting or removing and subtracting from the images,” Craven said. “Removing the identity of the image or person brings a new plane for the viewer.”

He combines the images to make abstract pieces reflecting on his personal views on life and the lives of others.

Some of his work contains pictures he pulled from a book he found of German social figures from World War II.

“I worked with investigating the rules of the image and socially what becomes normal,” Craven said. “I had the book and I liked the idea of the (pictures) serving a different purpose.”

Craven said the recent presidential election drove his fascination with this project.

For one of his pieces, Craven found a wallet with three pictures of strangers in it and decided to expand the photos into a tri-fold, three-dimensional piece.

“These are people who may or may not be alive,” Craven said. “They passed on and no one claimed the value of these pictures and I started placing value on them.”

Mukherjee is a contemporary American artist from San Francisco. She creates digital collages and works with layer animation, drawings, photography, images and painting.

Mukherjee’s exhibit in the Blackbox consists of hybrid films projected onto the walls.

Barber said Mukherjee’s work is about breaking down barriers and hierarchies.

Her work uses color, shapes and other elements to create abstract images that she continually builds on with animation and other images to create her hybrid films.

Ahn is from Busan, South Korea and moved to the U.S. in 1997 to study at Eastern Michigan University. Then, in 2002, he received a Master of Fine Arts from the Mount Royal School at the Maryland Institute College of Art in Baltimore.

Ahn’s exhibit “Reaching Into Infinity” uses LED lights and mirrors to create sculptures with illusions of infinite geometric shapes and images.

“(His) work is very minimalistic, but he plays with this idea of timelessness but also captures space and is very contemplative,” Barber said. “There’s so much to see and process.”

These exhibits will be on display from November 2016 through February 2017. Throughout those months, the Tarble Arts Center will host public lectures with Mukherjee and Craven at 5:30 p.m. on Thursday, Jan. 12 and Thursday, Jan. 19, respectively. There will also be an A.L.L. Gallery Talk featuring Ahn at 11 a.m. on Thursday, Feb. 9.


Angelica Cataldo can be reached at 581-2812 or [email protected].