The Scarlet & Black

The Independent Student News Site of Grinnell College

The Scarlet & Black

The Scarlet & Black

Faulconer Gallery introduces strikingly different exhibitions

Faulconer – John Brady
Faulconer - John Brady
One of Semmes’ most visually stunning works, “Buried Treasure,” trails the floor of Faulconer Gallery. Photo by John Brady.

Susanne Bushman, Copy Editor

Liberal arts are embodied in the newest exhibits to occupy Faulconer Gallery. These exhibits, “Beverly Semmes: FRP” (Feminist Responsibility Project) and “Siberia: In the Eyes of Russian Photographers,” are vastly different but both thought provoking.

“Beverly Semmes: FRP” features art works in several different mediums including sculpture and painting. Curator Dan Strong encountered Semmes’ work 20 years ago and was excited to collaborate with Skidmore College to create this new project in Faulconer.

The arrangement of Semmes’ work creates an immersive experience for viewers. Upon entering, the artist’s clay sculptures, brightly colored and about four feet high, take up the center of the gallery. Pages from Hustler and Penthouse magazines adorn the walls and are painted over by Semmes in order to change or obscure the pornographic images.

“While she was painting on [the magazine pages] she was thinking about what she was doing, and that’s the way Beverly Semmes works,” Strong said. “It’s a lot about the process, more than it is the statement. When she does a project called Feminist Responsibility Project it sounds like there’s a big … polemical or strident statement, [but] that isn’t the way she’s approached it. The title of the piece is really more tongue-in-cheek. I think she’s trying to provoke a reaction more by the title than she is by the work itself. The work itself I think is really more formal.”

The next portion of the exhibit shows Semmes’ larger-than-life textile works. One of her dresses, “Buried Treasure,” features a black velvet dress hung on the wall with a long train of the same fabric draped along the floor to appear as a maze. The photo accompanying the dress shows a red X on the back of the dress.

“She’s interested in texture,” Strong said. “She’s interested in the way materials and art come together. You can definitely see that in her clay objects. In a lot of her dresses, as well, you can see that she’s following a process, a working process, but there’s always a question in all of her work: ‘Where does it end?’”

Because Semmes questions at what stage a project is actually finished, several of the dresses are unhemmed, the paintings raw and the clay and glasswork with an unfinished style uncharacteristic of the mediums.

The second new exhibit in Faulconer Gallery, “Siberia: In the Eyes of Russian Photographers,” comes as a traveling show. Lesley Wright, Director of the Faulconer Gallery, brought the exhibit to Grinnell in order to promote learning about Russian language and culture in conjunction with art. The collection features photographs from Siberia through its many historical and cultural transitions.

The photographs are arranged so that viewers move forward in time. This enforces the way that the region has transformed throughout history and under different political regimes and social changes. The exhibit also draws comparisons between the region and the American West, highlighting pioneering, complex relations with natives and other similar experiences with expansion.

“It’s still remarkably empty out there,” said Wright. “There are cities, but they are few and far between. … Because things are so isolated, communities have developed very distinct personalities because you don’t see anyone from another place for a long time.”

Leave a Comment
More to Discover
Donate to The Scarlet & Black
Our Goal

Comments (0)

All The Scarlet & Black Picks Reader Picks Sort: Newest

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *