JANUARY ART TALK
Posted on 12/06/2004
Chance Encounters and Visual Languages
The Bemis Center for Contemporary Arts
First Thursday ArtTalk in 2005
January 6 2005 7 - 8:00 pm
How can the precision of science be abstracted into art? How are abstract encounters translated into precise images? How are impersonal bar codes transformed into personal portraits? Amanda Knowles, Santiago Cal and Scott Blake all grapple with these complex artistic challenges, and they address their different approaches during the Bemis Center’s first monthly ArtTalk: Resident Artist Lecture Series of 2005 on Thursday, January 6, at 7:00 p.m. This event is free and open to the public.
Printmaker Amanda Knowles creates a visual language that interprets how languages are processed, and she pieces together shapes abstracted from scientific data in order to convey her personal responses to science. In commenting on her approach, the Seattle artist says: “My work investigates scientific information in the artistic realm, subordinating linear thought and the knowledge base from which the information originates to create an aesthetic interpretation of the moments leading to understanding.” To this end, Knowles creates visual structures with which to further this investigation, juxtaposing photographic images with diagrams to combine the actual with the conceptual. The artist received her BA from the University of Pennsylvania, Philadelphia and an MA and MFA from the University of Wisconsin, Madison.
Born in San Ignacio, Belize, Santiago Cal’s sculptural pieces are inspired by “chance encounters, dreams and ideas rooted in literature.” He is interested in working with the human image and its implications, and he accomplishes this by using fragments and symbolism in his large-scale installations. The artist received his MFA from Virginia Commonwealth University and has exhibited in Spain, Mexico, Guatemala and Taiwan. Currently a faculty member at the University of Nebraska, Lincoln, Cal is one of twelve artists recently selected by the Nebraska Arts Council for its prestigious Merit Award, and his work is featured in Nebraska Now: 2004 Nebraska Arts Council Fellowship Recipients on view at the Bemis Center through February 14.
Omaha artist Scott Blake creates computerized portraits in which the pixels are all individual barcodes. While Blake often focuses on celebrities, such as Jane Fonda, Madonna and Elvis, he also generates images of ordinary, everyday individuals. Blake plays with the notion that these ubiquitous – and frequently undecipherable – codes determine the value of consumer goods, while simultaneously symbolizing consumer culture. In an interview with Pamela LiCalzi O'Connell in the February 26th issue of the New York Times, Blake reflected on his work: “In the world, there are infinite gradations of gray, but bar codes are black and white - a stark dichotomy just like the ones and zeroes at the basis of computers.” O’Connell noted that for this reason what ultimately results from Blake’s wry use of barcodes “is a sort of digital pointillism.”
The factual and the ephemeral shape the imaginations of these artists. Join us at the Bemis Center on the first Thursday evening of January 2005 and spend the New Year learning more about how Amanda Knowles, Santiago Cal and Scott Blake handle their intriguing subject matter in intriguing and inspiring ways.