Thursday, September 10, 2009

Elegeia: Works by Brenda Stumpf and Tom Kelly September 25th until October 17th, 2009

Eva G Farris Gallery at Thomas More College is pleased to announce an exhibition of sculpture by Brenda Stumpf and paintings by Tom Kelly. Elegeia, from the Latin for elegy, is a collection of work that reflects a shared source of inspiration for both artists. Both Stumpf and Kelly share an appreciation of and are inspired by history and mythology. Legends, apocrypha, historical and mythological figures, and lost histories all serve as a source of inspiration for their work. Both present an exhibit of paintings and sculpture that is spare yet evocative, visceral yet delicate, and that conveys visually the impact both of what time has allowed to survive and the absence of what has been lost.

Contrary to many contemporary artists who focus on social or political issues, Brenda Stumpf steeps her work with mystical qualities which arouse intensely personal and archetypal associations. Her sculpture, assembled paintings, and drawings reveal dichotomous relationships between virility and delicateness, immovability and transformation, past and present, and fundamentally; corporeal and spiritual. Originally from Parma, Ohio Stumpf attended the Columbus College of Art and Design before living in New York, NY and Cleveland, Ohio. Her work on display is from her Offerings and Attributes series of work. The work includes titles that are in Latin and French. Some reference poems of Hafiz and Neruda, others elude to states of being, goddesses, and past loves. The work is created from non-traditional materials. Piano strings, PVC pipe shavings, leather, tulle, raffia, gourds, discarded wood, sand, dirt, dried flowers and insects. Much of the found and collected objects are often covered with the warm sienna and translucent paper from steeped tea bags, and portions coated with white paint and/or pigmented wax. Stumpf’s work has been displayed extensively in North America and twice at the International Assemblage Artist Exhibition, Gallery twenty-four, Berlin, Germany.

Tom Kelly also uses a collection of found and real objects in his work, but has recently begun to create a new series of redacted abstractions inspired by the surviving work of the ancient Greek lyric poet Sappho. Over the centuries the entirety of the collected work of Plato’s “tenth Muse” has been lost to the vagaries of translation, the fervor of religious censorship, and the erosion of time. Of her nine volumes of lyric poetry only a few complete poems and a collection of fragments preserved on scraps of linen and papyrus have been recovered. Her plaintive and poignant expressions of ecstasy, love, hope, fear, loss, bitterness and mortality span two and a half millennia and still resonate today with an immediate and paradoxically contemporary impact. Even the remnants of her lyrics that are mere fragments of lines convey a profound depth of thought, metaphor and emotion that few modern writers can attain. Kelly reacts to this by creating work that can range from some few vivid marks of paint to those whose images accrue in layers and are often backfilled to obscure passages of the painting. His work presented in Elegeia is a collection of paintings on paper and canvas using acrylic and ink. Kelly has recently begun to emerge as a new artist in the Midwest United States with gallery, art center, and museum showings in the past 6 years. The first body of work in his Sappho series was If not, winter, a collection of 18 paintings on paper, shown at the Southern Ohio Museum (Portsmouth, OH) as well as in assorted gallery and juried shows in 2008 and 2009.

Stumpf lives in Denver, CO and Kelly lives in Columbus, OH.

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