March 21, 2011
Walter Zurko’s "Colony #2," 2011 (top) and Bridget Murphy Milligan’s “Fireside,” 2010 will be among the many works on display at The College of Wooster Art Museum’s final exhibitions of the season.
WOOSTER, Ohio — The College of Wooster Art Museum will close out the season with three exhibitions — two by studio art faculty members and one by students. Walter Zurko and Bridget Murphy Milligan will present works from their recent leaves, while 12 students will display works from their Senior Independent Study projects — Wooster’s nationally acclaimed undergraduate research program.
At first glance, the objects in Zurko’s exhibition, “…a matter of time” — which will be on display in the Sussel Gallery March 29 through April 24 — resemble replicas of old agrarian tools, but a closer look reveals that there’s more to this artist’s vision than meets the eye.
“My intent is not to restore or replicate the original object,” says Zurko, professor of art. “Instead, I attempt to create a new identity that exists in a metaphorical context, yet retains a link with the world of everyday life.”
Zurko, whose work is influenced by sculptural and utilitarian objects found in the indigenous art of Africa, Micronesia, Japanese folk craft, and North American Shaker furniture and woodenware and early farm implements, has been working with wood objects for more than 20 years. “I gravitate toward these sources because my goals are to communicate real concerns and ideas about human nature, as well as issues that inform the psychological situations in which we find ourselves embedded,” he says.
The wood forms in this exhibition resemble cages, rakes, and other tools, but the functionality of these objects is negated or subverted, symbolizing Zurko’s commentary about the evolution away from working with one’s hands to contemporary society’s reliance on technology for productivity. The title of his exhibition describes the effort and time it takes to create wood objects using hand tools like spokeshaves and shaving knives, as well as the conflation of past and present.
Milligan illustrates the dying art of storytelling through historic and contemporary photographic processes in “fireside tales,” which is scheduled for March 29 through May 16 in the Burton D. Morgan Gallery. An associate professor of studio art whose name reflects her undeniable Irish ancestry, Milligan is a passionate advocate of storytelling, particularly in Ireland, where folk tales are an important part of that country’s heritage. “Storytelling is a dance between the teller and the listener,” she says, “but with all of our new technology we have to ask ourselves, ‘what will become of traditional storytelling?’”
Milligan addresses that question as she examines and preserves the tradition of Irish storytelling through the language of photography. Her images reinvent popular stories of faith, mystery, myth, humor, history, and fairy legends, which she hopes will speak among each other and provide context.
The exhibition consists of 10 wet-plate collodion prints (also known as Ambrotypes) and 15 digital collages that combine photographs taken while traveling in Ireland in the Fall of 2009. In both formats, Milligan alters the original image by adding drawings and paintings as well as pages from antique children’s storybooks.
“The images are divided into two worlds,” she says. “There are factual depictions of ruins, monastic sites, rocks, bogs, fields, fences, and seaside cliffs that once inspired these tales, and fictional elements represented by shadows of animals, figures, and common motifs in Irish folklore that serve to twist reality into a fantasy.”
Milligan’s juxtaposition of these two processes serves to symbolize and preserve the lasting impact of these Irish tales on society and communication from the 19th century to today. “My hope is to generate contemporary folklore retellings that reveal a convergence of factual spaces and fictional narratives,” she says. “I also hope it causes us to re-evaluate how we communicate and share stories with one another.”
The “Studio Art Senior Independent Study Group Exhibition,” which takes place in the Sussel Gallery from April 29 through May 16, features the work of studio art majors Feng-Ju Chien, Nina Dine, Adria Hankey-Brown, Nathanael Kooperkamp, Anna Sharpe, Meredyth Lynn, Hayet Rida, Austin Gifford, Taylor Lamborn, Kathleen Mazzei, Nicholas Ouellette, and Will Santino. The 12 seniors will be present to discuss their art during Wooster’s Senior Symposium on Friday, April 29 from 1-3 p.m.
The College of Wooster Art Museum, located in Ebert Art Center (1220 Beall Ave.), is open Tuesday through Friday from 10:30 a.m. to 4:30 p.m. and Saturday and Sunday from 1-5 p.m. The opening reception for the studio art faculty exhibitions will be Wednesday, March 30 from 6-8 p.m. with a Gallery talk by both artists at 7:15 p.m.
All receptions, lectures, exhibitions, and performances are free and open to the public. Group and class tours are also available. For more information, call 330-263-2388 or visit the Museum's website.
1189 Beall Avenue, Wooster, Ohio 44691. (330) 263-2000
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