UWF faculty remain ‘In Place’ at The Art Gallery

September 23, 2021

Darien Hardy

The Art Gallery (TAG) at UWF presents In Place, a faculty art show, which will run until Nov. 5. It is a bi-annual exhibition with a different identity each year. 

The In Place Art Gallery was influenced by COVID-19 and the recent need to stay ‘in place.’ This inspiration was developed into this exhibit’s identity by the TAG team students. 

 

Cat Gambel is the Director of TAG. “The Art Gallery (TAG) at the University of West Florida seeks to challenge, stimulate, and engage students and the greater public through direct interaction with works of contemporary art,” Gambel said. “The Art Gallery’s annual series of revolving exhibitions highlights innovative regional, national, and international artists and artwork. These exhibitions seek to promote contemporary critical thinking and cultural inspiration for the benefit of UWF students and the greater Gulf Coast community.”

This exhibition features work by Jenea Wood, Thomas Asmuth & Sara Gevurtz, John Dougherty, Dale Castellucci, Carrie Fonder, Valerie George, Nicholas Croghan, Marzia Ransom, Yvonne Christine, John Markowitz, Gregory B. Saunders, Jim Jipson, Kelly Leitermann and Justin Quaid Grubb. 

The work on display incorporates a variety of mediums including ceramic, drawing, painting, photography, printmaking, digital media and sculpture. 

Marzia Ransom is a UWF Academic Advisor for the Department of Art and Design, as well as the Dr. Grier School of Music. Ransom occasionally teaches art courses for the Department of Art and Design and for the Kugelman Honors program as an adjunct professor. 

Her piece in the exhibition, Assumption, is one of six panels. The final work is a double free-standing triptych dedicated to the Virgin Mary. She is currently working on the design for the next piece, Annunciation, which will be made up of two smaller paintings that will flank the panel opposite Assumption

Assumption is the depiction of the Virgin Mary rising to heaven. I chose to depict the event in a not-so-subtle way. Gold and ropes are in contrast with each other (ethereal vs physical, sacred vs prophane, sensual vs sexual and so on), in a constant push-and-pull. The central figure is iconic, and quite literally, pivotal to the entire composition,” Ransom said.

“Soon two flanking panels will depict angels pulling the ropes allowing the Virgin to reach heaven. As she steadies herself, two angels above are almost not aware of what is happening; another angel, in the corner below, judges the scene. All three angels will be revised as the new figures will surround the scene, but as of now, I wanted their faces to be impactful in their boredom and childlike demeanor.”

The oil painting showcases dark transparent blues that envelop Mary as gold and pink white-washes and splashes exuberantly warm up the cool blue embrace. “Again, in a constant flux, my figures exist in chaos and abstraction, elevating the drama of the composition,” Ransom said. 

Ransom’s research pointed her in the direction of Early Medieval art, including the majestic triptychs depicted throughout Europe. “I am passionately interested in reliquaries and other religious artifacts. However, altarpieces are at the center of this particular investigation, not so much from a religious perspective, but from the point of view of womanhood, ritualistic behavior, and semantics of Christian literature (for example, the difference between Assumption-the Virgin, and Ascension-Christ),” Ransom said.

Ransom is hoping to show more of her work soon, but she does not currently have any specific plans. 

 Professor Jim Jipson teaches photography, mixed-media and conceptually based art courses. He presented DAMNATIO MEMORIAE 1950-2021 to the ‘In Place’ Faculty Exhibition. 

‘Damnatio Memoriae’ is a term originally used by the ruling elite in Ancient Rome to try to eradicate any memory of their deceased opponents. Jipson’s series of digital photographs portray the loss of knowledge and facts that are slowly replaced over time by appearance and packaging, similar to the current attempts to disguise or hide factual history. 

Jipson is interested in history as well as current events. “I believe that I am watching the attempt to blind us to the facts of history and today. I normally shoot emotional photographs but this time chose to tell a story which I believe then evokes emotions when my audience understands,” Jipson said. 

While last year’s online teaching slowed Jipson down a bit, he plans on coming back strong and showing more work soon. 

Gambel is new to her position at UWF and is delighted to have a chance to get better acquainted with the practices of our art faculty members through this exhibition. Gambel took note of Gregory B. Saunders’s piece. “His work deals in part with loss and temporality,” Gambel said. “This particular piece references Saunders’ childhood memory of the death of his brother and includes symbolic artifacts like crow feathers, honey locust thorns, and .22 rifle shells. It is sharp and soft and ambiguous and direct all at once, and I very much want to see more of his work in person.”

Like Gambel, Ransom also appreciates Saunders’s work. “I always feel his sculptures have the ability to transport me as if I was sailing. His precision and immaculate rendition is unrivaled,” Ransom said. 

Jipson points out John Markowitz, Yvonne LeBrun, Carrie Fonder and Justin Quaid Grubb’s works as pieces that stood out to him, but he congratulates each artist in the exhibition. 

As more students and community members visit TAG, many faculty members and organizers of the gallery hope for certain takeaways. 

Gambel hopes that students get a chance to visit the gallery and see the kind of work professional artists in our community are doing, as it is a great opportunity to specifically learn about a professor’s practice, ask questions and get a sense of recent concerns in the art world. 

Ransom hopes that students and community members leave the show with an understanding of how much each individual artist in the department is vital to the student body. “Each of us has a great gift and we choose to share it with each other, the public, and most of all, our students,” Ransom said. 

Jipson hopes that students and community members take away the great variety and professionalism available at UWF’s Department of Art and Design. 

If any students are interested in helping TAG, several art initiatives are in the works and always need volunteers. Students can get in touch with Cat Gambel at [email protected] or [email protected] Gambel would love to chat with anyone interested in critical art writing, videography or photography, increasing access to art and much more. 

After ‘In Place’ closes in November, TAG will present the Student BFA show opening just before Thanksgiving. The exhibition gives UWF’s graduating seniors a chance to take some ownership of the gallery space. They will collaboratively plan their own show and install and de-install their own work. After Christmas break, TAG will host the Points of Departure Exhibit, which showcases work from introductory-level art students. TAG team students are currently designing and printing a calendar for the year. 

In response to the COVID19 pandemic, TAG is ecstatic to be back in the gallery space and welcome UWF students as well as members of the community; however, TAG is still safety-conscious and strongly encourages gallery visitors to wear masks so that receptions, events and exhibitions can continue to be hosted at TAG. 

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