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By Any Means: Works from the National Drawing Invitationals

June 8 - August 11, 2006

 

For 25 years, the Norman R. Eppink Art Gallery at Emporia State University in Emporia, Kansas, celebrated the art of drawing in its Annual National Invitational Drawing Exhibition. Inaugurated in 1977, each exhibition brought together exceptional drawings by both established and emerging artists from across the United States. The only unifying element -- and the Annual's greatest strength -- was the selection of high-caliber artists committed to the rigorous discipline of drawing.

The college has an esteemed Art program and throughout the year, art exhibitions are shown in the Norman R. Eppink Art Gallery. Included in the schedule of 15 to 20 exhibitions each year is an Annual National Invitational Drawing Exhibition. Exhibitions include works by international, national, and regional artists. Nationally and internationally known artists are often invited to the campus to discuss their work and to conduct short workshops. The traveling exhibition By Any Means highlights 25 years of work from these exhibitions.

Artists' were invited to send drawings to the annual Invitationals at Emporia State University. Organizers of the invitational did not want to restrain the artists' abilities to rules and regulations. Accordingly no effort was made to limit the exhibitions to a particular movement in art, and the term drawing was never defined. As a result, each Annual was noted for a wide-ranging display of media, techniques, and concepts. Defining the word drawing is difficult, and defining it to encompass the entire scope of the discipline would be a monumental endeavor. It is drawing's ability to adapt to any circumstance that has kept it vital through millennia. By Any Means: Works from the National Drawing Invitationals demonstrates that contemporary drawing maintains its vitality through continuous reinvention of the form.

The drawings in this exhibition range from informal sketches -- revealing the artist's creative process -- to works that are precisely and exquisitely executed. All works are on paper and techniques include; monotype, ink, graphite, pastel, watercolor and collage. The subject matter in these works also ranges widely, from photo-realistic creations and works based on direct observation to conceptual visions conceived solely in an artists' mind. And as with most contemporary art created from the mid-twentieth century to the present, these works provide viewers with new ides and viewpoints and drawing as an art form. For example, Beth Harris states that, "in Violin, Bryan Holland establishes a spatial contrast between a collage of two-dimensional images-sections of a map, pages of a phone book, and graphed paper-with three-dimensional illusion of a violin's tuning pegs. The parts of the violin appear to float in space against the flat background of seemingly unrelated words, numbers and patterned lines. These contrasting images, however, also seem to symbolically evoke a harmonic and balanced tone. By placing these distinctively different images in contrast with each other, the artist allows viewers to make their own connections between the interrelationships of the elements." The artist states that the struggle between two contradictory forces, the flatness of abstraction and the illusion of dimension or shape has dominated his work over the last few years. Another exceptional piece is Self Portrait 12/91-1/92 by Manon Cleary. Harris also states that the artist "captures remarkable details in this piece. The rug is rendered in such clarity that the viewer can almost feel the patterns and texture and the wrinkles on the bottom of her foot look incredibly realistic. The woman's body, with her smooth and flawless skin, evokes a clear sensuality, but her partially blurred movement is unsettling as she falls forward in an emotionally dramatic movement. Representing a drawing from Cleary's "Movement Series," this image is based on a self-portrait photograph taken by the artist. Although considered a photo-realist, Cleary corrects the imperfect in what a photograph captures and idealizes what she sees in herself as she ages."

The Eppink Gallery at Emporia State University purchased some of the most outstanding works on paper from each year's Annual, both from well-established artists and those just beginning to gain recognition. By Any Means consists of 31 representative drawings from this exceptional collection, including works by Donald Roller Wilson, Janis Mars Wunderlich, Robert Stackhouse, Phillip Pearlstein, and Harvey Breverman.

By Any Means has traveled from Emporia State University to California State University and now to Texas A&M University.

 

(above: Robert Cottingham, While-U-Wait, 1979, Pencil on vellum. Image: 11 1/4 x 11 1/4 inches, Frame: 18 3/4 x 17 3/4 x 1 1/8 inches)

 

(above: Manon Cleary, Self Portrait 12/91-1/92 (Movement Series #11-Self Portrait), 1992, Graphite on paper)

 

(above: Bryan Holland, Violin, 2000, Oil and mixed media on drafting vellum, Image: 8 3/4 x 11 3/8 inches, Frame: 17 x 19 1/2 x 1 1/8 inches)

 

(above: Mel Rosas, Rooftop Series #1, 1980, Charcoal and acrylic on paper, Image: 6 3/8 x 9 1/2 inches, Frame: 17 x 21 x 1 1/8 inches)

 

(above: Robert Stackhouse, Inside Ruby in Brazil, 1996, Watercolor on paper, Image: 15 x 22 1/4 inches, Frame: 24 x 32 x 1 1/8 inches)

 

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