The Materiality and Metamorphosis of Graphite
Oct 21 - Dec 22, 2007
This traveling exhibition explores the allure of graphite—fundamental, familiar, and expressive. The pencil is perhaps the most basic of all drawing tools. For many it symbolizes the essence of the creative act of drawing. The art in Leaded allows us to look at the material of graphite in a new way, to appreciate its aesthetic versatility and rich physical qualities. Leaded was curated by N. Elizabeth Schlatter, Deputy Director and Curator of Exhibitions, University of Richmond Museums, Virginia, and organized for tour by International Arts & Artists, Washington, DC.
The artists in this medium-centric show have created work that is elegant, conceptually intriguing, and stands outside the generalized history of modern drawing. Artists include The Art Guys, James Busby, Hsin-Hsi Chen, Christopher Cook, Tara Donovan, Meghan Gerety, Michael Joaquin Grey, Sarah Lovitt, Marco Maggi, Stefana McClure, Creighton Michael, Shimon Okshteyn, Gloria Ortiz-Hernandez, Mark Sheinkman, Stephen Sollins, and Molly Springfield.
Some artists manipulate graphite in nontraditional ways to transform surfaces. Michael Joaquin Grey for example, uses lasers to etch lines in a solid disk of graphite 3 cm thick. Others such as Molly Springfield and Shimon Okshteyn have employed graphite to draw unexpected objects such as photocopied books or paint brushstrokes in impressive detail.
In the case of Stephen Sollins, layers of pencil strokes obscure the imagery from camping catalogues underneath. The effect is an ocean of darkness with sporadic islands of tents and campers.
Combining utility and wit, The Art Guys from Houston built a 7 ft tall skyscraper out of thousands of sharpened No. 2 pencils. Their monument to the “primary tool of visual culture” stands in contrast to New York-based artist Tara Donovan’s significant piece. Colony consists of thousands of truncated pencils standing upright and sprawling across the floor—a statement about the mass-produced ubiquity of pencils in our every day lives. Colony is appearing only at the Bedford Gallery during the Leaded tour thanks to the generous loan from Berkeley collectors Penny Cooper & Rena Rosenwasser.