Opening reception for ‘Ultra-Deep Field’ Oct. 24 at Rockford University Art Gallery

Staff Report

Rockford University Art Gallery, inside the Clark Arts Center on the Rockford University campus, 5050 E. State St., will present “Ultra-Deep Field,” curated by Jason Judd, Oct. 20-Nov. 14. An opening reception is set for 6-8 p.m., Friday, Oct. 24.

The exhibit will feature the work of artists Daniel Baird, Sarah and Joseph Belknap, Katie Bell, Bill Conger, Laura Davis, Adam Farcus, Bob Jones, Holly Murkerson and Erin Washington.

Ultra-Deep Field” is a group exhibition that considers the inadequacy of representing desire, time and scale by way of hand. Though the artwork spans sculpture, photography, drawing and video, the pieces posture themselves as self-evident, allowing the literal to be experienced as poetic. In the exhibition, Joseph Belknap lights Sarah Belknap’s cigarette using the sun, Bill Conger stencils an exact replica of a poem written by his 8-year-old son, while Erin Washington’s 9-inch-by-12-inch black acrylic panel documents the process of her hand healing by using her injured hand to draw itself. To this end, “Ultra-Deep Field” suggests possibilities of how to reorient one’s body with the everyday world that acts upon it.

As Sarah and Joseph Belknap find a way to harness a complex system to have a smoke, Erin Washington asks, “Why haven’t we seen a photograph of the whole earth yet?” The Belknaps and Washington both materialize a new understanding of the cosmic and earthbound from a very local place: themselves.

Bill Conger’s lyrical titles amplify a sense of longing and melancholy, which becomes increasingly haunting as more time is spent with each piece: a vintage lighting rod, a smashed wine bottle glued back together, and an exact replication of his young son’s poem.

Adam Farcus’ wall poem, in five descending triangles, is a would-be potion that names materials that could be found in the Midwest. Like a materialization from Farcus’ potion, Bob Jones builds work out of humble materials local to him. Jones bonds sticks, rocks, dirt, studio debris with mud, paint and glue in his studio with the aspiration to offer a link to the mythical through an alchemical change.

Daniel Baird uses both found objects and structures he creates to subvert the experience between technological progress and the primitive. One piece includes a rapid prototype, a bird wing, an ejection seat handle, an emergency blanket, a meteorite, and marble dust, to name only a few.

Katie Bell’s paintings have no plan from the beginning. Though they hang on the wall, the process is about finding the painting within the hunk of plaster.

Laura Davis plays with scale, using an image of a necklace to formally materialize a likeness that proves to be a void. On the other hand, Holly Murkerson’s photographic sculptures reminds the viewer that the photograph is a space they can never enter physically — a desire you can stand in front of, but never be in.

Rockford University Art Gallery is open 3-6 p.m., Tuesday-Friday, and is closed Saturdays, Sundays and Mondays. Admission is free. Call the gallery at (815) 226-4105 or visit http://www.rockford.edu/?page=ArtGallery.

From the Oct. 22-28, 2014, issue

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