Photo, art exhibits premier at NIU

By Lynn Hammarstrom

The NIU School of Art will open its fall season with several new exhibits this month.

“Figurative Imagery from Chicago Artists” will be on display in Gallery 200 of the Visual Arts Building Sept. 9-27.

The exhibit, which features 14 Chicago-area artists’ depictions of the human form, is sponsored by student art organization Ars Nova. “Imagery” is the first in a series of invitational shows which the group plans to sponsor throughout the school year.

“The show is based on how different artists view the human figure,” said Gallery Director Michael Flanagan. “Some of the artists are more representational and traditional in their work while others tend to be more gestural, less true-to-life,” he added.

Jack Olson, faculty advisor to the Ars Nova group, said, “This collection highlights the re-awakening of interest in the figure as an exciting development in contemporary art.”

“Almost all of the artists represented in the exhibit are well-known Chicago painters, some are known internationally,” Flanagan said.

The pieces were selected by Flanagan, Olson and several student members of the Ars Nova group. “We made some selections of artists we thought we wanted to use, then travelled to Chicago to meet with representatives of their galleries,” Flanagan said. “It was a good way for the students to understand the curatorial side of exhibiting.”

Chicago galleries, which cooperated in lending works, include Dart, Marianne Deson, Phyllis Kind, Zaks and Zolla-Lieberman. Some of the artists represented are Nicholas Africano, Ben Mahmoud, Jim Desrud and Dick Willenbrink.

The photographs of Gene Kennedy, compiled in an exhibit entitled “California Carcinoma,” will be displayed in the Photospace area of the Swen Parson Gallery through Sept. 27. This exhibit, which includes photographs taken from 1981-86 in San Diego and Orange counties, deals with the destruction of the natural environment by developers in that part of the world.

“Kennedy’s photographs focus on landscapes which have been altered by man for the worse, man being the carcinoma, or cancer, on nature,” Flanagan said. “The photographer uses a special camera with a back that exposes two frames at a time,” he said. “That way the shots are double length, particularly appropriate to landscape photography.”

Funding for both exhibits was provided by the NIU School of Art with additional support from the National Endowment for the Arts and the Illinois Arts Council, an agency of the state.