October 15, 2012

On the floor of one of the contemporary galleries at the Detroit Institute of Arts sits Beverly Fishman's Pill Spill, an installation comprising eighty-six hand-blown glass pill shaped objects strewn about a raised platform. Crafted in halves by a master glass blower, Fishman'spairings are based on formal qualities and size, which range from about eight to fourteen inches across. First on view in 2011 at the Toledo Museum of Art where Fishman was an artist-in-residence,Pill Spill is part of a larger series, which includes paintings that reference medical test results such as EEGs.

On September 28th, Fishman held a brief discussion in the DIA gallery where her installation is housed. She remarked that her work questions the divide between poison and "the cure" -- and whether or not there is a cure at all. One viewer remarked that the capsules are hollow, unlike their "real" counterparts, perhaps referring to placebo, or that our belief in the benefits of pharmaceuticals is empty, futile. Often it's said that an exterior appearance can mimic the inside. In Life of the Mind Hannah Arendt has commented on this: "Appearances are no longer depreciated as 'secondary qualities' but understood as necessary conditions for essential processes that go on inside the living organisms... Since we live in an appearing world, is it not much more plausible that the relevant and the meaningful in this world of ours should be located precisely on the surface?"

The pills in Fishman's installation are also decidedly fragile -- and nonfunctional -- which, in relation to our bodies, speaks to our attention to superficial qualities as opposed to function and health. The glass capsules are unbelievably tactile, slick, and vibrant, which doesn't seem to translate through their documentation. A glass-blower in attendance at the lecture mentioned that few have bridged the gap between craft and fine art as successfully as Fishman in this installation. In her use of materials, Fishman comments on the seductive qualities of pharmaceuticals and the commonality of overlooking consequences in "quick fix solutions" in society today.

Image at top: Beverly Fishman’s “Pill Spill” is on view at the Detroit Institute of Arts through the end of the year. Photo by Eric Wheeler, Detroit Institute of Arts.

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January 17, 2017
Globalocation: Celebrating 20 Years of Artnauts
J. Willard Marriott Library
The University of Utah, 01/17/2017

The University of Utah’s J. Willard Marriott Library will host the art exhibition Globalocation: Celebrating 20 Years of Artnauts, Jan. 20-March 3.

Artnauts, an art collective formed 20 years ago by George Rivera, professor of art and art history at the University of Colorado, Boulder, consists of 300 global artists who serve as goodwill ambassadors, acknowledging and supporting victims of oppression worldwide. Their creativity has generated over 230 exhibitions across five continents. Five faculty members from the U’s Department of Art and Art History are members of the collective, Sandy Brunvand, Beth Krensky, V. Kim Martinez, Brian Snapp and Xi Zhang.

Globalocation derives from “Globalocational Art” — a concept used by the Artnauts to refer to their exhibitions in international venues. It is the mission of the Artnauts to take art to places of contention, and this anniversary exhibition is a sample of places where they have been and themes they have addressed.

“The Artnauts could not exist without the commitment of the artists in the collective to a common vision of the transformative power of art,” said Rivera. “The Artnauts make their contribution with art that hopefully generates a dialogue with an international community on subjects that are sometimes difficult to raise.”

Krensky, associate department chair of the Art and Art History Department, had the opportunity to travel with Rivera in Chile as part of an Artnauts project, working with mothers who were searching for their children who had mysteriously disappeared during a time of political unrest.

“When I travelled to Chile in 1998, George and I spent an afternoon with the Mothers of the Disappeared, and the meeting changed my life,” said Krensky. “It was from that moment on that I placed a picture of them on my desk to look at every day. I was so moved by what they each had lost — a son, a brother, a father — and yet what remained for them was a deep, deep well of love. They were fierce warriors and stood up to the government to demand the whereabouts and information of the people who had disappeared, but they lived within profound love.”

The 20th anniversary exhibition at the Marriott Library is a retrospective of the traveling works the Artnauts have toured around the globe. The exhibition will be located on level three of the library. The opening reception is open to the public and will be held on Friday, Jan 20, 4-6 p.m. Rivera will speak at 4 p.m.

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