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Moreau exhibits artwork

| Wednesday, February 12, 2014

Modernity, in both style and theme, has infiltrated the Moreau Center for the Arts at Saint Mary’s. The College’s spring exhibits feature pieces by Matthew Kluber, professor of art at Grinnell College, and Megan Vossler, professor of art at Macalester College.

Tiffany Bidler, director of Moreau Art Galleries, said the works of both artists represent a modernist, minimalist style.

“Both Vossler and Kluber’s work is quite minimalist,” Bidler said. “What I enjoy about Kluber’s watercolors is that they give the impression of being something produced in multiples by a machine, like a digital print, and yet they are each hand-painted.”

Kluber’s exhibit features a combination of painting and digital technology and is available for viewing in the Hammes Gallery, Bidler said.

The linear, geometric elements featured in his paintings reference the colorful horizontal bands of data one finds on a piece of compromised technology, Kluber said.

“The thn horizontal stripes refer to that imploding data, while the picture plane alludes to the computer screen, resulting in a carefully edited version of a visual phenomenon associated with the breakdown of a system,” Kluber said.

By manipulating the timing and fades of the projector while simultaneously playing multiple different layers of video and motion graphics on the pre-painted canvas, Kluber said he is trying to facilitate a seamless intersection between traditional media and new media. Although the Grinnell professor uses custom software written in C++ and OpenGL, Kluber said he draws inspiration from the age of psychedelics.

“Reference points for this work come from interest in the historic changes brought about in art by the social and cultural upheavals and rapid developments in science and technology in the 1960s and 1970s,” Kluber said. “These changes compelled a new generation of artists to address emotional disengagement, formal rigor and anonymity of authorship in order to escape the art that had reached its height of influence in the form of Abstract Expressionism.”

Vossler’s drawings, located in the Little Theatre and Sister Rosaire galleries, are less colorful and the borders are more defined. Bidler said she first saw Vossler’s work in an exhibition in Minneapolis.

“We have two drawing courses in the art department and I thought students would enjoy the work of a contemporary artist working in a traditional medium,” Bidler said. “However, she uses the medium in a contemporary way. The drawings are somewhat minimalistic, making interesting use of negative space and dealing with contemporary subject matter.”

Vossler said she meant for her graphite drawings to explore the relationship between human beings and the natural world. The exhibit features two bodies of work, one created in 2010 and the other in 2013, which Vossler said reveals how she has begun to hone her focus on the small details. The Macalester professor usually depicts northern landscapes dotted with human figures and caribou, shadowed by images of trees and hovering helicopters.

“[The subjects] all are negotiating their positions within an environment that has been indelibly changed,” Vossler said. “The landscape through which these figures move is vast and overpowering, a silent backdrop to a host of migrations.”

Her more recent pieces zoom in on the effects of human engineering, modification and control, she said. Octodrone I and II depict an octopus whose tentacles’ suction cups look more like loud speakers. Other graphite drawings depict loud speakers coming out of a dying tree’s trunk.

“Both flora and fauna are affected by the interplay between natural process and human desires,” Vossler said.

Bidler said that artists may find the relationship between humans and their ecosystems pertinent in order to explore their own medium of art.

“Students in the art department are very interested in exploring questions relating to the environment by way of their artistic practice,” Bidler said. “We have, for example, a sustainable fibers course taught by Professor Julie Tourtillotte.”

Bidler said the exhibit will be open until March 14, 2014.

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