posted January 7, 2004

Gallery Features Work by Two New Faculty

Work by two new members of the Hope College art faculty is featured in the gallery of the De Pree Art Center through Friday, Feb. 6.

The exhibition, featuring ceramics by Israel Davis and paintings by Katherine Sullivan, opened Jan. 9.

The De Pree Art Center is located on Columbia Avenue at 12th Street. The gallery is open Monday-Saturday from 10 a.m. to 5 p.m. and Sunday from 1 p.m. to 5 p.m. The gallery is handicapped accessible. Admission is free.

The exhibition reflects the modern conception of artworks as art objects themselves and not only as a means of conveying images, according to curator John Hanson of the Hope faculty.

"Prior to the modern period, artists conceived of the canvas or panel on which they were painting as a transparent window into another reality. The viewer was intended to suspend disbelief by erasing the art object, and focusing attention on the distant reality that the artist had cunningly recreated," said Hanson, who is director of the De Pree gallery and an assistant professor of art history, in his curator's overview for the exhibition. "For modern artists, artworks became art objects, whether they were images or not."

"We see this in Katherine Sullivan's paintings, especially in her choices of color," he said. "Although her subject, the human figure, is ancient and academic, the startling combination of, say, vermilion and aqua turns the pieces into insistent objects in our environment."

"Davis' work crosses more than one boundary. To begin with, it blurs the distinction between decorative art and fine art," he said. "The tradition of painted ceramics has a long and distinguished tradition, of which Davis is a 21st-century proponent. The fact that the objects are not functional, and moreover hang on a gallery wall make them fine art objects, illustrating the inadequacy of the distinction in the first place."

"Davis also blurs the distinction between image and object," Hanson said. "These hefty pieces of earth, with their rough edges and curved surfaces, remind us constantly that we are dealing with an object first, and an image second."

Davis and Sullivan both joined the art faculty at the beginning of the school year.

Davis is a part-time lecturer who has also taught in Iowa City, Iowa, and in Chicago, Ill. He has exhibited in group and solo shows in Iowa, Virginia, Illinois and North Carolina. He has received honors including the University of Iowa Fine Arts Council Grant and a scholarship from the National Council on Education for the Ceramic Arts. He received his B.F.A. from the School of the Art Institute of Chicago, and his M.F.A. from the University of Iowa.

Sullivan is an assistant professor who has also taught in Boston, Mass., and Philadelphia, Pa. She has exhibited widely in both group and solo shows in Michigan and Massachusetts. Among her distinctions are the William J. Branstrom Prize for Academic Excellence from the University of Michigan, where she completed her B.F.A., and the Richard Ryan M.F.A. Award from the Boston University.