Archive for April, 2009

Teresa A. Shillingford

Saturday, April 25th, 2009

Shillingford writes:

“‘Abide Not’ is a 2’x 3” wall sculpture created out of wood, plaster, and photographs.  It is a visual representation of the destructive nature of hateful, spoken words.  Viewers witness this physical deterioration as their eyes glide from the top of the sculpture, down to the shredded bottom.   ‘Abide Not’ is antithetical to inspirational poetry.”

Artist’s Work

Retta Robbins

Saturday, April 25th, 2009

Bio and Artist Statement

Robbins has studied at the Richmond Professional Institute (now VCU), Johns Hopkins, and NYU and
in Firenze, Paris and Kyoto, and has in turn taught art for many years. Her studio can be found at Libertytown Arts Workshop in Fredericksburg, Virginia.

Robbins on her outlook and the work it informs:

“My exhibit – Politics · Conflicts · and Social Injustice – has grown out of personal, visual comments about the world around me. The artist has long been the lens that focuses on injustice throughout the ages.  It is that empathy which brings to light misdeeds in every period of history. An image is seared onto our national memory, whether it be Goya’s ‘Execution of the Rebels of May 3rd’ or the photographed execution of a citizen in the streets of Vietnam, or the hooded, wired prisoner at Abu Grahib.  The artist leads us to what we know. ‘Guernica’ forever cemented the horror of modern warfare in the minds of its viewers.  Picasso’s iconic depiction of a bombed Spanish town in 1939 captures the terror inflicted on a people by an unseen enemy. It has been my intent to record/react to events around me, pose visual questions, look at the madness in the world, and step back and sigh.  I feel as if I am in Goya’s Black Paintings from Quinta del sordo, looking for a way out and wondering if we will ever learn.”

With regard to the Ledger Line’s interest in crossing genre lines, Robbins writes:

“I think that the Rumsfeld.non-speak piece is more about making connections—hearing Secretary Rumsfeld’s curiously existential Pentagon briefings made me think of a radio that I had in the ’70’s.  It was a white cube, and when it was turned on lips began to move…no matter what the content of the present program… the lips just moved…like the vases being carried out of the museum in Iraq over and over.  Content and message somehow were not connected. Then I came across a piece in The New Yorker about a group that had set some of Secretary Rumsfeld’s briefings to music… I tracked down the recording and put them all together.  Made 20casts of the mouth and let them speak for themselves.”

Artist’s Work

Gabriel Pons

Saturday, April 25th, 2009

Artist Bio

Gabriel earned his bachelor’s degree in Architecture from Virginia Tech in 1997.  While working in the architecture profession, he continued to explore painting and collage on canvas and in sketchbooks.  His sketchbook work exemplifies his interest in creating abstract environments inhabited by fictional characters and iconography.  Found images are reshaped, reformed and adorned with paint and pattern – displacing them from their former context.

Pons writes:

“My paintings are the sum of parts – pieces of the visual environment which I collect, catalog, alter, and re-present.  Our culture is conditioned to react to visual cues, from traffic signs to internet icons and avatars.  I enjoy rearranging this visual language into something new – an environment where time and space are restructured and infinite.

Crossing Genres: The Revolution Will Now Be Improvised

“The creative process for me is one of consumption, reflection, and reconstruction.  The theme of crossing genres seems quite fitting when the intent of the majority of my work (especially the collages) is to engage the viewer such that they feel displaced into a new and hybrid visual space.

“Through the juxtaposition of form, imagery, and text, I am able to cross-reference pop culture icons with historic figures; ancient architectures with contemporary urban landscapes.  It is hoped that through these explorations, the viewer can ask questions regarding their own frame of reference.”

PONSHOP Studio at LibertyTown Arts Workshop

Artist’s Work

Caitlyn Paley

Saturday, April 25th, 2009

Paley lives and studies in Richmond, Virginia. Her work has also been published in the Moria Poetry Journal. She is lucky to have the support and encouragement of her wonderful family.

Paley on “Mariachi “:

“‘Mariachi’ is one of the only love poems I have written. It is dedicated to Derek Miller. This piece was initially an interactive installation.”

Artist’s Work

Allie Atkeson

Saturday, April 25th, 2009

Atkeson writes:

“My art helps me define the way I see things and answer how mediums behave with one another. I see shape, value, juxtaposition– themes that emerge from my work. With a special interest in glass, cutouts, and light sources, I tend to work with mixed media in unconventional ways.”

Atkeson, about “More Light”:

“How does light act? “More Light” incorporates paper cutouts and a light source to form a mixed media piece. Usually, light functions to increase the value of an area. The piece reinvents the use of light by allowing it to create shadows and areas of high and low value. When viewed from different angles the light changes how the piece is seen, allowing each observer to see light act in a different way.”

Artist’s Work

Joseph Di Bella

Thursday, April 23rd, 2009

Joseph Di Bella, Distinguished Professor of Art, has taught at the University of Mary Washington since 1977. He served as chair of the Department of Art and Art History from 1990 to 1993 and 1996 to 1999 and Director of University Galleries from 1983 to 1988. He was instrumental in the establishment of the Ridderhof Martin Gallery at Mary Washington. From 1994 to 2003 he was co-director of the University’s program in Urbino, Italy. He holds a BA in art history from Rutgers and MA and MFA degrees in painting from Northern Illinois University. A signature member of the National Watercolor Society and affiliated with other professional art organizations, he has exhibited in regional, national and international venues.

On his work, Di Bella writes:

“The vanitas theme underlies much of my art. It manifests itself in questions about spirituality and materialism, personal uniqueness lost to collective identity, tentative balances between antagonists, and impaired beauty. Often these questions take the form of divisions, separations and confluence of disparate elements of media, technique, representation, abstraction, pattern, color and form. While seeking beauty in expressive form, these elements often yield to tension and tentative symmetry.”

Artist Work

Interview with Carole Garmon

Monday, April 20th, 2009

Carole Garmon, Assistant Professor of Art, has taught at the University of Mary Washington since 1998 and received the Alumni Association Outstanding Young Faculty Member Award in 2002. She holds a B.F.A. and an M.F.A. in Sculpture from Virginia Commonwealth University and has participated in national and international exhibitions. Garmon is a member of the College Art Association and the Arlington Arts Center and serves on the board of 1708 Gallery in Richmond, VA. Garmon teaches 3D design and sculpture.

Could you discuss how your sculptures inspired by Rembrandt, in particular “The Anatomy of Mr. Tulp,” flirt with crossing genre lines?

As an artist an a teacher, I’m delving into these same ideas about what constitutes different genres of art, but also more importantly; where do all of our ideas come from? For creative writers, or fine artists or musicians or whoever.

But with that in mind, I do have such a sincere dedication for respect for my tradition. So even though my art is much more contemporary, I still reference back to what came before me.

At some point, probably as a grad student, I found myself always going to these huge museums with my classmates and looking at all the contemporary work, but instead, I would find myself drawn to the Dutch portraits and I couldn’t figure out why.

But then one day, it was as simple as just seeing a painting with some dogs hunting. I still don’t even remember who did the painting. But these dogs were hunting and they actually had coats on.

I started wondering what the artist was thinking about when he painted these dogs. I really got interested in the artist, almost as much as the art. Which took me to Rembrandt because he started doing a lot of self portraits, hundreds of them. The more research I did on him, the more I began to understand that the things the Dutch were going through at the time are what we’re going through now. They had dissolved their monarchy and were moving to going more democratic. All of a sudden, artists were no longer painting for a patron. In the past, if you wanted to be in the painting, you had to pay. Rembrandt started making art for the sake of art, and that’s what I wanted to do.  He’s the beginning of what I’m doing now. So I started painting.

After I first showed my paintings incorporating Rembrandt, I went back to my studio and said, “what the hell have you done.” You’ve painted, and he already did it so well, so what is it you’re trying to say about this work. So what, you painted.

Painting became kind of an ego thing, to see if I can do it. So that’s where I came up with the white line.

A white line delineates something past, like a dead body. I thought, rather than do paintings, I’ll pick one character from the paintings and create a dialogue with him.

The dialogue will come in whatever genre I need. I decided Tulp would be my person.

I did a lot of research and used Tulp as my mirror. He’s a digital transparency taken from the original painting. If you look at the images, sculpture cloth is set up to mirror Tulp’s hand. I wanted to add a mirror because I wanted the viewer to stay in the now and see themself in Tulp’s hand. So he’s mounted so you see your own reflection.

While I was making “Mr. Tulp,” I was taking a creative writing course with Claudia Emerson as part of a teaching innovation program; a partnership where she took my class and I took her class. We began to realize that day-to-day we were lecturing about the same things; that I was talking about materials, plasters and things, and she was talking about words. She would talk about the form of a poem, and I would talk about the object. We talk the same lingo.

I was writing a poem for her class, it was a letter to Rembrandt about his work and I had no idea what to title it. And Claudia is a stickler on titles. It’s so cheesy but I ended up opening up the dictionary to the term “mort main,” which means “dead hand” in French, or the handing over of authorship. I thought “oh my god, that’s what’s happening with me and Rembrandt.”

For Randolph Macon College’s “Artists and Writers” exhibit three years ago, you teamed up with Pulitzer Prize-winning poet Claudia Emerson to create art about sewing birds. Could you elaborate on this collaboration?

They wanted an artist and a writer to work together. Both of us are the same when it comes to making art; I didn’t want to make an art piece about a poem she had written, and she didn’t want to write a poem about an art piece that I had made. We just don’t work like that. So we came up with something that we would both approach artistically.

The sewing bird that Claudia took was very Victorian and pristine looking; mine was much more sleek and streamline. We bought them at the same Antique store and started thinking about it.

I was inspired by the concept of a bird that can’t fly-it’s clamped on the table. Sewing birds were also a common gift that husbands would give their wives as a wedding present. So what I did is took the scale of a double bed to create the association of marriage.

What specific genres do you think you incorporate with sculpture the most?

As we speak, I’m really interested in video. Well, really video and text. I’m interested in words.

Right now I’m exploring how I can put a few words together and come up with different meanings. For instance, when you say “That’s what’s that,” depending on how your intonation and inflection, could have so many different meanings. Playing with three simple words.

Another idea just recently came to me; when I was a kid, my mother was babysitting a bird for the family next door. I can remember taking it out of its cage while my family wasn’t home. I don’t know if I squeezed it too tight or if it died of fright, but the bird died in my hands. I was horrified. Now that I’m older, I’m a pet-rescuer. I also just recently lost a car last year, and he died in my arms too.

It came to me the other day to explore the phrase: “holding something dying.” Just three words again. I’m interested how you can play with just a few words by adding slashes and emphasis.

I love Google. I was researching something else the other day and came upon the phrase “Coal Mining in Arkansas.” What a title! I ended up creating a piece based on those words.

I also was googling to find the proper term for “birds who can’t fly,” and the phrase “flightless birds” came up. I loved those words. I think I get a lot of ideas just from a phrase.

How do you specifically encourage your students to cross genre lines?

In a beginning sculpture class, I think it’s important to just focus on technique. However, when you get to my upper-level classes, I encourage my students to not limit themselves to genre.

I gave my students an assignment the other day where I gave them matchboxes and asked them to solve the problem of how do you travel from the grandiose to the minute and reveal an interesting using a matchbox. I’m trying to get them to use their brain and conceptualize.

When you get to Sculpture II, you’re on your own. We throw grades out the window. They’re doing all kinds of art; they’re embroidering,  weaving, using found objects, making video, etc.

How boring would it be if I had 12 amazing students and I made them all do carved salt-blocks.

You can get technique all your life. Now is the time to learn how to tap into your thought process

I’m a firm believer that students need to learn how to set up problems for themselves. In fine art, we also have graphic design and advertising. In my mind, they’re wonderful mediums but a career in that means a client comes to you with a problem to solve. In fine art, you make the problem.

Sculpture is a cross-genre; I don’t care what you use, as long as you’re creative. If you English majors are in language, we’re in visual language. It’s all about the making. It’s never personal, it’s all about the making.

We’re also getting online now. My students are blogging and posting their pieces, and we’re running away with it. It’s another addition to the studio.

Charlie Devine

Friday, April 17th, 2009


Jordan Bloom plays fiddle and mandolin. Emily Harris plays cello.  Devine plays all other instruments on this recording, which he describes as a sonic equivalent of old-country-road movie imagery.


Devine is a student at the University of Mary Washington in Fredericksburg, Virginia.  He plays a number of instruments, but shows a particular affinity for banjo.

Forrest Marquisee

Friday, April 17th, 2009

Forrest Marquisee is a student at the University of Mary Washington in Fredericksburg, Virginia.  Aptly enough, he majors in both music and environmental science.

Marquisee on “Waking up…”:

“‘Waking up in the Middle of the Night’ was created in Fall 2008. It was performed with a computer synthesizer and a violin. Both instruments were recorded live, at night.
The piece blurs genre lines in its attempts to inspire imagery with sound.
Specifically, it tries to illustrate the actions and feelings associated with being woken from bed, into a dark room.”

Artist’s Statement

Michael Morley

Friday, April 17th, 2009

Morley on “Meet the Horsey…”:

“This piece was composed and processed using the Roland MC303 and the Roland SP-808, melding samples from The Valley of the Dolls and Multiple Maniacs.

“The piece needs no explanation. It is a very simple dance track. Just fun and interesting sounds arranged together. It was created in 1998.”

Artist Statement