LikenessMarch 14, 2014

posted in portraits

Still feeling the afterglow from being at Denison University in Granville, Ohio last week. Everything from the student critiques, to the panel discussion to the actual show itself was a great experience. Many thanks to Ron Abram for curating the exhibition and bringing it all together.

My work is in such great company:

Christian Faur, a Denison professor, painstakingly constructs crayon portraits. These works are based on intricate color formulas and each crayon is hand-cast.

Susan Moore, my favorite drawing teacher at Tyler School of Art, makes delicate figure drawings showcasing the subject’s tattoos.

Karen Schmidt, one of my best friends and an inspiration for my own portrait work, is sharing 288 intimate, miniature paintings from her Send Me Your Head series.

Fourteen gray on black reduction screen prints from my Presence series are also included.

One of the big hits of the show is the collaboration between Karen and I on a series we call Drag Masks. I chose 6 portraits I had made of friends of mine who are local drag personalities – as well as icons Divine and Dolly Parton – and Karen translated the faces into knitted head masks.

You can see photos of opening night here.

Likeness: Portraits by Four Contemporary Artists runs through April 4, 2014.

Thanks again to all those who helped make the show happen and to Denison University for hosting us.






Curator’s Statement

My grandfather was born in Puerto Rico in 1902. I was always struck as a kid that anytime anyone ever took his photograph, Papa would say “Thank You.” Growing up in the age that he did, photography was still very special and he saw it as an honor that someone would want to have his likeness for themselves.

In the “Selfie” drenched/IPhone ubiquitous culture that we live in today perhaps the charm of that perspective is gone. Our likenesses fill the Internet like water from a faucet.

Likeness: Portraits by Four Contemporary Artists has been organized in conjunction with this year’s final Spectrum themed series at Denison, Real Utopias: From Dreams to Practice. As I thought about what makes a utopia or dystopia, I came to the conclusion that what defines either are the people that make up any given community and the relationships formed within. Like the people that make up our small community at Denison, this exhibition brings together a collection of independent portraits that speak individually to the viewer but also connect to one another to form a collective expression. The strong use of mathematics, grids and series work by the artists speak to the inter-connectedness of us all. Through the chosen mediums of painting, drawing, print, knit sculpture and video, the four artists incorporate technology only as a means with which to observe their subjects and seek out the larger metaphorical issues of what it means to be humans in our complex contemporary world.

Ron Abram
March 2014