Monday, April 7, 2014

New Acquisitions

Come over to the MU Student Center to view the new art works on the hanging wall across from US Bank. These represent some of our most recent acquisitions from the past year, which include a quilt by contemporary textile artist NedRa Bonds of Kansas City, Kansas and two watercolor landscapes by Columbia's own Frank Stack. These works will remain on display until July.

View of the hanging wall across from US Bank.
The quilt by textile artist NedRa Bonds (American, b. 1948), titled Out of the Glorious Past, is made from cotton and mixed media. Unlike traditional quilts, this textile work incorporates hand-painted images alongside preprinted fabrics. In addition, a large portion of the piecework is irregular and organic rather than geometric. The artist created the column of faces running down the center of the quilt by utilizing various painting and cutting techniques, which showcase her use of mixed media and the spontaneous nature in which her quilts typically take shape. 
Out of the Glorious Past (detail), 2008, cotton and mixed media  (2014.001)
According to Bonds, this quilt is about looking towards the future while remembering the past. She explains, “Everybody has ancestors.  Their experiences help shape each of us, whether we are aware of it or not. For that reason, each of us should know our family history.” Quilting is a part of Bonds’ family history. Both of her parents quilted, as did both of her grandmothers, and Bonds was only six-years-old when her grandmother began teaching her to quilt. The artist included a personal reference to her own family in this work by incorporating a photographic image of her grandson in the center of the upper portion of the quilt.

Bonds spells her name with a capital “R” for “ART.” While the incorporation of the capital letter “R” is meant to be playful, she stresses the seriousness with which she employs the power of art in her work and her sincere desire to make a difference through her art. 
The other two works currently on display are by University of Missouri-Columbia Professor Emeritus of Fine Art, Frank Stack (American, b. 1938). In River Overlook, the artist depicts plant life growing on bluffs overlooking the Missouri River. 
River Overlook, 1988, watercolor on paper (2013.081)

Stack’s bold layering of vibrant saturated hues and juxtaposition of color fields combine to create a rich landscape that conveys the warm luminous atmosphere the artist experienced while painting this scene en plein air, referring to the tradition of painting outdoors. The artist’s ability to layer colors to create a sense of depth while preventing the image from becoming muddy or murky demonstrates his mastery of the watercolor medium. He also utilizes washes of color to suggest the airiness of the scene and the reflection of light on the water’s surface.

Like the French Post-Impressionists of the early 20th-century, Stack uses color as a powerful and expressive instrument to enhance the viewer’s emotional response to the work. The artist explains:
“Painting is about color. It uses drawing and literary references and whatever, but… I think the best kind of painting is hue-based painting where you don’t go to lights and darks. You do like Van Gogh and the Fauves did. You make the color do all the work. It actually frightens a lot of people. I’ve even had people look at my landscapes, and if anybody says they’re ‘light-filled,’ I’m flattered that they get it.” 1

Stack's other painting currently on display, Trees Reflected in the Missouri River, is also a fine example of the artist's talent for rending the pastoral landscape in watercolor. 
Trees Reflected in the Missouri River, ca. 1996, watercolor on paper (2013.082)

An accomplished artist in many mediums, Stack chooses the one he feels is best suited to the subject of each work he creates based upon the medium’s advantages. He considers himself a purist when it comes to media, stating, “I feel like you choose a medium for what it does well.”2 The properties of watercolor make it an ideal medium for portraying the transient effects of light and color that fascinate the artist, an interest Stack shares with the French Impressionists of the 19th-century. 

Frank Stack is a prolific artist with a diverse body of work that includes drawing, watercolor, oil painting, etching, lithography, comics, and graphic novels. He became an instructor for the Art Department of the University of Missouri – Columbia in the early 1960s, where he worked for nearly four decades before retiring to pursue art full time. A native of Houston, Texas, Stack received his Bachelor’s degree in Fine Arts form the University of Texas – Austin and his Master’s degree from the University of Wyoming before eventually settling in Columbia. He also completed post-graduate work in Chicago, New York, and Paris. Stack is an internationally recognized artist who has exhibited widely in the United States as well as France, Italy, Poland, South Korea, Switzerland, and Turkey.

Works Cited:
1. Wilder, Amy. “Upcoming exhibit displays the peculiar brilliance of Frank Stack.” Columbia Daily Tribune [Columbia, MO] 7 Oct. 2012: n.p. Columbia Daily Tribune. Web. 7 Mar. 2014. 
2. ibid. 

 Authored by Sarah Horne, PhD Student in Art History and Archaeology