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Spring 2004

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Alumini artists showcased

Featuring the work of New York City–area artists is nothing new to Skidmore’s Tang Museum. But what’s different about one upcoming show, an invitational featuring four such artists, is how it pays tribute to the influential legacy of the college’s art program: all four are alumni.

The museum’s downstairs gallery will be divided into quarters, giving the effect of four solo shows, according to curator Ian Berry. New works by photographer Susan Lipper ’75, ceramic artist David Dalva ’85, and painters Susan Rabinowitz Malloy ’45 and Sarah Lutz ’89 will be on exhibit May 1 through June 6.

Lipper is a documentary-style photographer, perhaps best known for her book of gritty black-and-white images made in the rural West Virginia town of Grapevine. Her new work, an installation prepared especially for the Tang space, pairs large images that evoke feelings “having to do with 9/11, and surveillance, and empty spaces,” Berry suggests—even though the photos were made before 2001. Like her previous works, which have a narrative quality, the series of diptychs (titled Not Yet Titled) “is self-conscious about the language of photography and deals with the viewer’s construction of meaning,” Lipper states.



Dalva’s towering ceramic sculptures, many of which are several feet tall and finished in flashy glazes, are suggestive of totem poles, Berry observes. “They have a natural look—except for the crazy colors, like shiny metallic gold—but the forms are pretty natural, and the marks of his hands are still visible.” Dalva says he often uses the female body as a starting point, abstracts it, and tries to “suggest some movement.” Recently he’s also been making “groups of figures that, when placed together, seem to have their own dialogue. Another series of pieces is inspired by sea forms, such as coral, snails, and fish.”


Berry is attracted to the work of Malloy, a representational painter, because of her process of “painting a realistic landscape and then abstracting it. It’s the same thing that Mondrian did—which is start with a tree, and then the branches turn into cubes, and suddenly you have a painting of lines and boxes,” he says. Malloy comments that her work is “based more on memories of shapes and forms of nature than actual places I see.” Her theme of “winter trees and branches, combined with manmade towers and bridges, is what I look at everywhere, all the time,” she adds.



In Lutz’s abstract paintings, there’s “a clear figure/ground relationship,” she notes, adding, “I am equally concerned with surface and form.” Berry is intrigued by the repetition of shape—often a round, cell-like ball (as in her last body of work, The Morula Series), and layers and layers of color. “My work has become increasingly involved with process,” Lutz says. “I am experimenting with a greater variety of mediums and tools and pushing the limits of what paint can do when applied, and removed, in [different] ways. Although invented, the images are evocative of familiar life forms.”

Depending on the success of the Tang’s alumni invitational—and curator Berry predicts it will be quite popular—it may signal the start of a series, with subsequent exhibits going up every several years. —MTS

 


© 2004 Skidmore College