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Visual Art, Design & Creative Writing Intersect in Peeler Exhibition, 'Darkfire and The Waiting Room'

August 3, 2013

Also: 'On the Shoulders of Ancestors: The Art of Willis 'Bing' Davis '59' Opens at Peeler Center Aug. 28 and Explore and Discuss Unique Exhibition, 'Living as Form (The Nomadic Version)', Sept. 5 - Nov. 28

You're invited to attend a DePauw University exhibition consisting of two related interdisciplinary and collaborative artist’s books, Darkfire and The Waiting Room, which explore the interface of visual art, design and creative writing. Each of these works is an unbound portfolio consisting of prints by Sean Caulfield, accompanied by poems written by Jonathan Hart, with Susan Colberg designing a book consisting of a title page, text layout, colophon, and portfolio box. The exhibition is made up of a total 25 images and 25 pages of text with two title pages and two colophons. (at right: Hunger Tree, Mezzotint, Intaglio, Chine Colle, 16" x 16," 2009)

DePauw's Richard E. Peeler Art Center will display Darkfire and The Waiting Room August 28 through September 26. The galleries are open Monday-through- Friday from 10 a.m. to 4 pm; Saturday 11 a.m. - 5 p.m.; and Sunday 1 – 5 p.m., and are closed during University breaks and holidays. The exhibition is free and open to the public.

To initiate Darkfire and The Waiting Room, Caulfield, Hart and Colberg used themes and poetic images taken from Dante’s Inferno and Purgatory as a common start for each of their image/text pairings The intention was not to illustrate Inferno/Purgatory in the traditional sense, but rather to use it as a motivation from which they could find common formal and conceptual inspiration. By drawing on the Divine Comedy for inspiration, they built imagined landscapes populated by enigmatic objects that refer to both mechanistic and naturalistic forms in order to explore themes of mutation, metamorphosis and biology/technology dichotomies. (at left: Night Cloud, Mezzotint, Chine Colle, 9” x 9”, 2008)

As the viewer/reader moves through Darkfire and the The Waiting Room, a dynamic arc is created that reflects the original source of motivation. For example, beginning with relatively small black and white works, with a naturalistic space, and then moving towards larger, more open, abstract compositions. In addition, the artist’s books are designed to suspend viewers between references to history as well as to contemporary sources. On the one hand, forms within the prints are rendered through a careful use of chiaroscuro and detail, referencing a wide range of historic prints including alchemic images and early scientific plates from the age of discovery.

On the other hand, the prints also contain bold, absurd graphic forms that bring viewer back to a very contemporary context by referencing comics/manga, industrialization, and science fiction. Responding to these image/poem pairings, Colberg also combines traditional and contemporary approaches to book typography and text/image relations within design to support the content of the poetry and images in a manner that is understated, yet evocative. (at right: Night Cloud, Mezzotint, Chine Colle, 9” x 9”, 2008)

Although the work looks to the past for inspiration, its merging of mechanistic and organic languages is intended to point viewers towards a contemporary context in which advancements in technology are rapidly changing our relationship to the natural world, biology, and our own bodies. In a broad sense, then, these artist’s books are intended to encourage individuals to engage in reflection and dialogue about the changing environments of our daily lives. Further, by investigating the formal and conceptual dynamic of relations between text and image, Darkfire and The Waiting Room are a celebration of poetic language and imagery for its own sake, as well as artifacts that pay homage to the artist’s book as an important part of contemporary culture. (above right: Phlegyas, Mezzotint, Chine Colle, 8.5” x 8”, 2007)

Visit the Peeler Galleries online for more information about special events associated with this exhibition. You may also contact Craig Hadley at (765) 658-6556 or at craighadley@depauw.edu.

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