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Saturday, July 31, 2021

A rare look at UC Davis art faculty work

The latest exhibition at the Pence Gallery in downtown Davis, Between the Quotes, is a rare treat for many art students. They will have an opportunity to see work from their professors. It is a unique look at the types of work the art department faculty produces.

“It gives the community a chance to see what is going on in our studios,” said Hearne Pardee, art studio department chair. “Students are always curious about what we do. I don’t show my work in class because I don’t want them to try and model themselves after what I do. This can give them a perspective on what their teachers are talking about and help them learn some new ideas.”

One of the most intriguing aspects of the show is being able to see the diversity and variety of work the faculty produces. There is almost every type of medium imaginable, from painting to sculpture to photography, and each artist has their own style and perspective in their work.

“The whole focus of the show is really sharing the talent of the faculty with the community, showing what is normally only seen in their studios or galleries across the U.S., to the people in Davis,” said Natalie Nelson, Pence Gallery curator.

Nelson started the show and approached the faculty about displaying their work in the gallery. They responded with enthusiastic agreement.

“There’s going to be some really interesting, challenging work that makes students think and talk. There’s some things that are quite funny in the show, some things that are really intriguing. So there’s really different forms of artwork that they might not get a chance to see regularly,” Nelson said.

Another surprise of the show is that many professors will be doing work outside of what is considered to be their field of expertise or what they teach.

Professor Robin Hill normally works with sculpture, but her piece in the show is a large picture of a digital snowflake derived from a mathematical algorithm.

“I have taken a mathematical algorithm of a UC Davis mathematics professor who works on probability and snowflake crystal growth,” Hill said. “I work with ideas of chance and encounters with found materials and situations and when I saw a visualization of his data we started to collaborate. I took his data and made it into art.”

Another faculty member, Darrin Martin, has created two unique works. The first is a video of images of various ancient ruins in Europe from places like Rome and the South of France juxtaposed with images of a sculpture he created. Additionally, he has created a series of sculptures from plastic foam.

Yet another artist is Matthias Geiger. “He’s originally from Germany,” Nelson said. “He’s working right now with a series of portraits of artists from San Francisco area and these are mostly performing artists and he’s photographed them basically where they work. He’s captured people who are kind of on the cutting edge of doing very advanced type of work; choreographers who do very different types of dance forms. He captures something so interesting about the environment in which the artist works and well as the character of the person.”

Despite the diverse artwork displayed at the exhibit, there is something that ties it all together. That is the name of the exhibit: Between the Quotes. Each artist was asked to choose a quote to display next to their work. This can represent the pieces on display, the artist’s inspiration for those pieces or their work in general. It is to help the audience understand the creativity and inspiration behind the artist’s work and their studio practices.

“I definitely read other artists’ [work]; I read fiction and there are certain texts that have kind of haunted me in my work. Out of those I tried to think of what would be most relevant to my work in the exhibit,” Martin said.

There will be a panel discussion with selected members of the faculty on Feb. 7. It is open to everyone.

“There’s such a one-way conversation between the students and teachers most of the time,” Hill said. “They don’t get many opportunities to respond to our work. I want to encourage students to come with questions and even if they don’t ask questions to leave the exhibition with a question and to engage their peers in discussion about the work and determine the goal of the work.”

The exhibit will run until Feb. 29 and is open during gallery hours: Tuesday through Sunday from 11:30 a.m. to 5 p.m.

PAAYAL ZAVERI can be reached at arts@theaggie.org.

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