A Portrait of the Psyche
Persona is a word that can mean that aspect or part of one’s personality that is deliberately shown to the world, or in the Jungian sense, and hearkening back to the etymology of the word (from the Greek “prosōpon”), a theatrical mask which covers the wearer.
In the current exhibition at the Therese A. Maloney Gallery, director and curator Dr. Virginia Fabbri Butera, by choosing this particular word as both the theme and the title, has opened a dual vision and introduced a brilliant twist. The works in the exhibition are either, as T.S. Eliot describes in Prufrock, representations of when we “prepare a face to meet the faces that you meet” or, in the Jungian sense, a mask behind which we hide our true selves—either the face we show or the face we hide behind. In either sense, Dr. Butera has brought together a fascinating view of contemporary artists’ ideas of identity, gender, race, spirituality, self-image, voyeurism, memory, celebrity and anonymity, in an exhibition that relates contemporary art with psychology. (In the past, she has developed exhibitions that display ways in which science and math inform contemporary artists.) In this collection of works, among the many personas presented, we encounter the famous, the nameless, the beloved, the forgotten.
Adding another layer of either revelation or obfuscation, the thirty-two artists whose work comprise the exhibition, are, as artists always are, by creating and presenting their visions, choosing the face they will show the world. And the faces presented here are as individual, complex and interesting as the persons behind them.
Ellen Denuto “What Remains”
Among the artwork presented are portrayals of individuals known, such Ellen Denuto’s tenderly assembled reminiscence of her father in the mixed media “What Remains,” Bette Blank’s humorous presentation in image and text of her husband in the portrait, “Stu,” and Claire McConaughy’s faceless portrait, “Green Shirt,” which conceals even the public face of the sitter. Other artists chose to depict the famous in portraits of writers, philosophers, musicians and artists. Raul Villarreal’s powerful portrait of Hemingway confronts the viewer on entering the gallery. Doug Depice, Charlie Perkalis, Aileen Bassis and Elizabeth Catanese offer images of other artists. Adejoke Tugbiyele and Olushola A. Cole present, in their video, “AfroOdyssey” a representation of a people, a history, a culture, and a nation through dance, music and costume.
Aileen Bassis “Philosophers Remember/Bergson”
The nameless, as well, are recognized. In Ellen Dodeles’ portraits of anonymous boxers, scarred, twisted faces tell their stories. Marianne Barcellona’s touching paintings of Egyptian funerary sculptures, “I Am Here” and “Mummy on Orange Ground” recapture a spirit still present after thousands of years. Through layers scraped and painted, depth of surface and depth of labor give these forgotten individuals new voices, filled with the optimism of a new found life.
Marianne Barcellona “I Am Here”
There are reflections of actions that define a remembered persona, as in Carlos M. Frias’ “Pan de Agua,” which captures memories of his mother, reflections suggested, as in Jayna Aronovitch’s playfully glimpsed, but never revealed self-portraits, and a literal reflection, in Rob Barth’s “Container” where an ocular peephole reflects back the viewer’s own curious self.
Valerie Huhn “Fingerprint Murual”
Some of the most moving portrayals are those by artists whose choice is to reveal a metaphysical or spiritual sense of persona. In Valerie Huhn’s elegiac, lyrical monument, “Fingerprint Murual” the artist infuses her medium—paint—with her identity—fingerprints—to document moments of love, loss and remembrance.
Kiyomi Baird, "Conflict"
Kiyomi Baird’s “Conflict” a compilation of collage and printmaking utilizes color, texture and shape to reveal psychological nature.
Marsha Solomon “Dreams Before Sunrise”
Marsha Solomon’s striking abstract painting “Dreams Before Sunrise” through thick, gestural strokes and washes of pure color, expresses both movement and stillness, creating an atmospheric, metaphysical portrayal of a state of mind, and like all the works in “Persona,” invites the viewer to, as she states, “a space where their imagination is free to roam.”
Group exhibitions are like group portraits, depicting individual visions but also a societal moment in time. “Persona” is a unique view of how a group of contemporary artists respond to the idea of the self, with all its psychological, social, physical, and spiritual aspects. In this finely composed and curated exhibition, Dr. Virginia Fabbri Butera has created a portrait of contemporary art that is unique, vibrant, alive and certainly worth seeing. It runs through April 14, 2013 at the Therese A. Maloney Gallery at the College of St. Elizabeth in Morristown, NJ.
Therese A. Maloney Art Gallery, Annunciation Center at the College of Saint Elizabeth, 2 Convent Road, Morristown, NJ 07960
The Gallery is open Tuesday, Wednesday, Thursday and Sundays, 2:00 – 6:00 PM, and by appointment (contact Dr. Butera at email@example.com or 973-290-4314 ahead of time). Please check the Gallery website, www.Maloneyartgallery.org, for upcoming special events as well as college vacation days and weather closings.