If it’s true that “a picture is worth a thousand words,” often attributed to such historical figures as Confucius, author Turgenev and even Napoleon, then it must also be so that a well-chosen phrase or two can inspire the imagination.
Such is the goal of Black and White and Read All Over, a new exhibit at Hot Shops Art Center with featured artists Nancy Lepo, Dorothy Tuma, Ron Manabat and John Prouty, which asks the viewer to interact with the work in a way that not only creates individual interpretation but new images in the mind of the beholder.
To enable this process, Hot Shops will hold a closing event, an “Ekphrasis,” July 31, coordinated by poet Heidi Hermanson. “Ekphrasis,” according to Hermanson, who has conducted numerous such events over the years, means “adding another layer of texture to the meaning that’s already there.” The event will feature ten poets who will provide verbal interpretation of the show’s visual representation along with an interpretive dancer.
Lepo hopes that both the show and closing night will “make people notice details, textures or mood and celebrate the rich variety of grays and black and white." Examining the intense detail of her pen and ink pointillist drawings, it is easy to see that there could be thought beyond the page. On opening night, many viewers were heard “ooh”-ing over her smaller sized pieces, including some beach scenes, one aged man reading a newspaper clear as day, so finely detailed they were often mistaken as photographs.
“As for my own collection in the show, the pieces are about places or people that drew me in. They made me curious to look closer,” said Lepo, whose work was recently shown at the Nebraska Governor’s Mansion.
Besides her more representational art, Lepo includes a few more abstract pieces. Spirit of Pride: Mosaic Madonna quietly sits in the corner of the gallery, but seems to speak volumes, a strong woman standing tall, hand on her hip, looking out and proud. Celebrate, perhaps even more abstract, shows multiple children’s handprints in layers, almost haunting from afar with the dark shades, but friendlier upon closer approach.
“The hope is for visitors to realize that black, white, and shades of gray can be as vibrant as color, and sometimes more rich in complexity,” she said.
Dorothy Tuma, known for her black and white photography of architecture and abandoned buildings, introduces her complex fabric and glasswork in public for the first time.
Gathered around the Table, a triptych work of black and white fabric and buttons, shows three individual chairs tucked into a table. Though outwardly minimal, Tuma’s delicate details of line and composition match that of her photography and even shine with her implied storytelling.
“Each chair seems the same, but they’re really unique,” Tuma said of the piece. “Just like a family, they’re sitting around the table.”
She made the piece in a fabric art class at Hot Shops where she also made her debut glass pieces under artist Gerry Klein.
Film/Flam is a mixed-media piece of delicately cut and designed camera film bordered with three small square black and white glass pieces she titled Black and White and Read All Over. Though the artist displayed honest modesty for her first attempt, “they’re going to my kids,” they show great strength in composition, again, like her photography she has done since age four.
Poet Bruce Koborg’s writing in the show was inspired by Tuma’s The Wind Blows from the North, an image Tuma took outside of Lincoln. Poet Dustin Lutz selected Coral a piece by Ron Manabat. The glasswork by Ron Manabat provides the main color in the exhibit. Placed mostly in the middle of the gallery, Manabat’s sometimes rich and bright, sometimes-transparent larger pieces establish “color” as the complementary accessory of the show.
“He adds that surprise of color,” said Tuma of Manabat.
Manabat and John Prouty, were brought on board for the show to add a three-dimensional layer. Prouty’s steel and glass works are primarily in black and white with an occasional pop of red or purple.
“It is a wonderful exhibit that shows how contrasting ideas and styles can not only work together, but compliment each other and Hot Shops has made it so accessible,” said Lutz, from Council Bluffs, who writes a blog “From the Middle” of poetry.
Hermanson, inspired by Tuma’s Minimum Maintenance photograph, selected a “variety of people and styles that I think will be meaningful to art lovers and lovers of the word,” including Academy of American Poets Prize winner Sarah McKinstry-Brown, British-American poet and writer Ian Barker and more.
Interpretive dancer Joan Sangimino will perform live on the 31st as the poets read their poems to further address the artistry.
“I am extremely excited to be able to interpret poems with dance and movement,” said Linconite Sangimino. “Poems are kinetic in my mind...whenever I hear them, I can see movement and am very pleased to be able to make that vision come to life during the 31st show!”
Hermanson is hopeful that the exhibit will be celebratory and multi-layered in its attempt to bring more people into the world of art.
“Maybe you’re a visual-spatial learner, and you need something to look at while you listen to poetry,” she said. “Maybe art frustrates you to no end and you'd like a crumb thrown to you and you'd like to know what's going on. Maybe neither of these is true. Hopefully, if they didn't think of art before, they will think of it, and if they did think of it, they will think of it in a different way then they did before.”
Black and White and Read All Over is on display at Hot Shops Art Center 1301 Gallery, 1301 Nicholas Street, through July 31. The closing reception and ekphrasis event is on July 31, 2-4p.m. FREE to the public. For more information visit hotshopsartcenter.com.