Emory Report
March 7, 2005
Volume 57, Number 22


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March 7, 2005
Visual Arts opens new home, March 24

BY sally corbett & william brown

Emory’s newest arts facility—the Visual Arts Building and Gallery, which will officially open its doors with a reception on March 24—promises to be a welcoming home for the exchange of ideas and artistic creation on campus.

The contemporary design by Atlanta-based Menefee & Winer Architects, featuring a brushed copper and concrete facade, hints at the innovative and textured experiences students, faculty and guest artists will have inside the building.

The new facility and renovation of the existing adjacent space on Peavine Creek Drive heightens the Visual Arts Program’s profile on campus.

The facility now features a gallery for exhibiting new and recent work, office space and lounge areas, and improved classroom, storage, darkroom and computer spaces. In keeping with the University’s research focus, the curatorial vision for the gallery is to introduce new ideas and work that may not be seen elsewhere in the region.

“Buildings are symbolic as well as functional; the new Visual Arts Building, along with the other new art buildings on campus, expresses an expansion of Emory’s commitment to the idea that the creative act is a necessary component of the educational experience,” said visual arts Chair Bill Brown.

Visual arts faculty involved in expansion planning included Brown (film, video and photography), Linda Armstrong (sculpture), Diane Kempler (ceramics), Julia Kjelgaard (drawing and painting), Nancy Marshall (photography) and Katherine Mitchell (drawing and painting).

Visual arts have been taught at Emory since the late 1960s, largely as an adjunct to art history. The program has offered a minor for many years and in 2003 launched a joint-major program with art history.

The program is small by some standards, but the impact made by the six full-time faculty members with diverse specialties has been considerable, Brown said. Emory has a record of placing graduates in the best MFA and film programs in the country; recent graduates have gone on to University of Southern California and New York University film schools, the Harvard Design School, the Yale School of Art and Design and the Rhode Island School of Design, among others. Particularly acclaimed graduates include rising photographer and Whitney Biennial participant Chris Verene, and recent graduate J. Ivcevich, who recently was awarded a Pollock-Krasner Grant, a major international award in the visual arts.

To commemorate the opening, “Isolated Incidents,” an exhibition organized by Senior Lecturer Eddie Chambers, will be the first show in the new gallery. It features the work of nationally recognized, Tallahassee-based photographer Pat Ward Williams; the exhibition will be on view March 21–April 15.

“[Williams] uses photographs as a means of animating and graphically illustrating potent debates and her own perceptions about culture, about history and identity, and how such concerns are irreversibly intertwined with the photographic medium,” Chambers said. The photographer is known for her darkroom manipulation, presentation techniques, and “photo (re)construction” work, he added. The exhibition offers a range of work
spanning several decades of her career.

“My expression in photography is distinctive, in all ways a reflection of my personal views as an African American woman,” Williams said. “I draw from my own personal experiences while at the same time incorporating a larger combined spirit of the African diaspora.”

The Visual Arts Building’s opening reception (free and open to the public) will be held March 24 from 5:30–8 p.m., with a gallery talk by Williams at 6:30 p.m. The facility’s hours will be Monday–Friday, 9 a.m.–4 p.m., and Saturdays, noon–3 p.m. For more information, call 404-727-6315 or visit www.arts.emory.edu.