The Dowd Fine Arts Gallery has reopened after two years of renovation with an exhibition that explores evolving forms, incomplete construction and rubble created during World War II.
Fawn Krieger, a New York City-based artist who works in mediums ranging from video and photography to paint, fabric and construction debris, is inaugurating Dowd’s the updated and polished gallery space with “Keeping Things Whole,” a retrospective of her work to date.
Krieger’s show aims to give visitors three distinct, yet connected, experiences in each of the gallery’s three wings.
“She is fascinated by process,” said Kathryn Kramer, chair of the Art and Art History Department. “She contrasts rough forms with incomplete structures and emerging forms. Her work is meant to be experienced.”
Kramer proposed the exhibition, which is curated by Susan Logan, an adjunct instructor in the Art and Art History Department.
The rough materials and shapes featured in Krieger’s work stand in sharp contrast to the freshly modernized gallery. And that’s exactly the kind of challenging experience that Kramer believes the improved space will be able to give students and other visitors.
“It really looks like a gallery in New York City,” Kramer said. “We see this as a modern gallery, along with the Johnson Museum in Ithaca and the Everson Museum in Syracuse, that helps create a focal point for art in Central New York.”
For the past two years, the Dowd Fine Arts Gallery has staged its shows at the College’s Main Street SUNY Cortland extension at 9 Main St., in downtown Cortland.
The Dowd Center is located at the corner of Graham Avenue and Prospect Terrace, from where the art gallery’s large window offers pedestrians a glimpse of the unusual works inside.
“I’m very excited for the gallery to be back in the midst of the campus,” said Erika Fowler-Decatur, the gallery’s director. “Being downtown offered us the chance to connect with members of the Cortland community, who I’m hopeful will follow us up the hill.”
Krieger’s show will run from today through Oct. 10. Gallery events and programs relating to “Keeping Things Whole” are free and open to the public. Gallery hours are 10 a.m. to 4 p.m. Monday to Friday and by appointment.
The show’s title, “Keeping Things Whole,” is inspired by a poem of the same name by Mark Strand that addresses concepts of absence and presence.
In the gallery’s main space, pieces from various works in Krieger’s career are displayed on a central platform, surrounded by drawings and sculpture. The various pieces, made up of surprising combinations of industrial and household materials, work together as an installation that allows visitors to experience the major themes of Krieger’s work.
“Krieger sees these bodies of work as chapters in a book, each independent, but all connected by her ongoing research,” Fowler-Decatur said. “Her work is theoretical; it’s meant to be experienced rather than to specifically inform.”
Krieger’s research into the mounds of rubble created in Europe during World War II is the focus of “First Hand,” an exhibit in the gallery’s east wing. Here, the artist displays her research into the enormous piles of debris created by German women trying to clear the streets of bombed out cities. It ranges from images of how these mounds have evolved since the 1940s to children’s toys, kitchen dishes -– even a chunk of a human jawbone -– that Krieger collected from the piles during repeated trips to Europe.
The College’s political science and history departments are collaborating with this section of the display and will present films and lectures as part of the show’s schedule of events.
The west wing of the gallery will explore the artist’s creative process through “Moodboards” a high-definition video collage of the colors, textures and images designers use to convey emotions. It also will display three dress prototypes for an experimental line of clothing called “Early Woman,” in which primal and futuristic aspects of design collide.
Gallery programs for “Keeping Things Whole” include:
(pictured top left: Case Study 63, photo credit: Fawn Krieger)