November 18, 2012

Postcards from the cutting edge

By Bob Keyes bkeyes@pressherald.com
Staff Writer

(Continued from page 1)

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Two installations by Ling-Wen Tsai, including “Residual 1-9,” sumi ink on paper, on the wall at left.

Photos by John Ewing/Staff Photographer

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Ling-Wen Tsai discusses her work “Residual 1-9” with art student Diane Morin of Augusta.

Additional Photos Below

ON VIEW

"MAINE WOMEN PIONEERS III: VANGUARD"

WHEN: Through Dec. 16

HOURS: 1 to 4 p.m. Wednesday and Friday to Sunday; 1 to 7 p.m. Thursday

WHERE: Art Gallery at University of New England, 716 Stevens Ave., Portland

HOW MUCH: Free

INFO: 221-4499; une.edu/artgallery

Eggert turned it on on June 2 in Nashville, and it is designed to beat like a heart, at 60 beats per minute, for as long as a human heart should beat inside someone born in Nashville that day -- 78 years.

"Some people find it really pleasing," said gallery director Anne Zill. "It drives other people crazy."

WHAT MATTERS IS THE EXPERIENCE

Bickford creates an immersing art environment using new and old technology, including motion sensors, video, animation and old-school analog devices.

Her piece, "Torndado," encourages visitor participation. Our presence activates or alters the visual images and audio soundtrack that the artist has created.

The actual images really don't matter. Bickford has altered them to the point where you're never really sure what you are seeing or hearing. What matters is the experience and how it feels to be a part of it.

The inspiration for her piece was the death of her father last May. She started with the last photo of him, taken on New Year's Day, dissected it in Photoshop and "made a moment of it." His image is unrecognizable in the piece, but his presence is there.

To Bickford, this piece is about the cycle of osmosis and things in transition. It's about spirit, chaos and order. Just after her father died, Bickford began a residency at Maine College of Art, where she graduated in 2001. She developed this piece during her MECA residency.

Bickford, who now lives in Newcastle and teaches at the University of Maine-Augusta, said the artists developed camaraderie and community during the installation process.

She knew many of her colleagues before they were selected for this exhibition, but they developed deeper bonds during the days leading up to the opening when they shared gallery space and had time to talk.

In their conversations, the artists agreed that they felt a certain pressure to excel. The gallery took a chance with this show, grouping progressive women artists who like to push things.

"We really wanted to do something that was truly vanguard," Bickford said. "It was hard not to feel some pressure. We were incredibly honored. When someone puts you in a show with women pioneers, how can you not be honored? It was truly inspirational."

This is the third time UNE has hosted a Women Pioneers exhibition. The first two put forth a strong collection of women artists. This one updates that effort, said Gael McKibbon, who organized the first two exhibitions in the 1980s.

"This exhibition is a needed follow-up to the two previous ones, illustrating the enormous range and vitality of Maine women artists today," she said.

When this cycle of four shows is complete next summer, 50 women will have been featured, said Zill.

"These artists should stand the test of time," she said. "Fifty years from now, when we look back, we'll be celebrating 50 women artists who are working now, whose work has stood the test of time."

Staff Writer Bob Keyes can be contacted at 791-6457 or:

bkeyes@pressherald.com

Twitter: pphbkeyes

 

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Additional Photos

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Artists and gallery goers mingle at a recent gathering of the artists of “Maine Women Pioneers III: Vanguard.”

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Diana Cherbuliez discusses one of her pieces, “Let Myself Down,” which she created using her own hair.

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Susan Bickford, amid her piece, “Torndado,” which was inspired by the death of her father earlier this year.

Andres A. Verzosa photo



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