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A NON-PROFIT GALLERY FOR THE VISUAL AND PERFORMING ARTS
JANUARY   2003 
EXHIBITIONS 
COLLECTED EVIDENCE

January 3-February 2
Entire Gallery

"It's a hedge against nothingness. . . All those books. I am an expert. I am an authority. . . I'll have every stamp when I am ninety-nine years old. Taking in the whole world, having a membrane around the world. With every inch I have to touch something, all spread out, soaking it with all my fingers. And finding the junk-and more junk, never ending. I can't throw anything out. It's like a nest I lay eggs in."
-anonymous collector quoted in Collecting: An Unruly Passion, by Werner Muensterberger, 1994

K. Johnson Bowles, "Life is Served" from "Leftovers," mixed-media, 2002 (detail)Most people, at some point in their lives, collect something, and in effect, everything is collectible. Stamps, orchids, Renaissance paintings, and beer cans equally constitute "collectibles." Some people collect for the thrill of the hunt, others for the enjoyment of sorting and displaying their objects, and still others for the need to hoard their findings. The items collected act as evidence of past lives, craftsmanship, events, and species. What and how a collector collects also serves as evidence of the collector's mind and his culture.

Richard Roth, "Untitled Collection (palettes)," working artists' palettes, 1999-2002The exhibition Collected Evidence will present six artists from Virginia and Maryland who address the process of collecting in their art. The artists collect material for their work, either objects or information, and transform the material into an examination of various themes of collecting.

Jennifer Blazina, "Arrival," cast resin, silkscreen on glass and satin, steel.  Installation Overall, 2001
The above quotation expresses many common attributes of avid collecting, such as the desire to collect everything within a genre, the pleasure derived by being surrounded by one's collection, and the role of the collection as a source of security for the collector. A collection provides a collector with a "safe zone" in which he/she controls the inhabitants, thus providing a place for the collector to excel in a particular expertise. This sense of control is a crucial aspect of collecting, as in "I may not understand this chaotic world, but I own the most important amber-colored pickle jar from the 19th-century."

Caryl Burtner, "Dictionary Definition," series, unaltered clippings from dictionaries, 1992-present, photo by David StoverCollector of Greek antiquities George Ortiz told scholar Werner Muensterberger that objects in his collection were "evidence of infinite truth." A print by Dürer is tangible evidence of the artist's life and skill. A specimen of an extinct butterfly is proof of a long-gone species. People collect mementos as tokens of something they've experienced or survived such as a pressed flower from a prom or a button from a political convention.

Susan Eder, "Census," installation of chromogenic prints with iridescent acrylic paint, 1992-2002 (detail)A collection also offers insight about the collector. Throughout history, people, such as seventeenth-century Dutch collectors with their kunstkamers or collector's cabinets, have collected things to show off their taste, wealth, and intellectual curiosity. Although collecting is a leisure activity, anyone can become a collector provided one has initiative, time, and in certain cases, money. Whereas the art collection of Paul Mellon proves the man had a healthy source of income, a college roommate's beer can collection suggests the collector's propensity for partying.

John Lehr, "Untitled," from the series "Still   Life", chromogenic color print, 2001For each artist in Collected Evidence, collecting is either the main subject or an important sub-theme of the artwork. Their different styles and media display various interpretations of the act of collecting, classifying a collection, and "reading" a collection for evidence as to the subject or the artist.


Read the press release dated December 3, 2002 for more information about this exhibition.
Click on picture for larger image


John Lehr, Untitled from the series "Still   Life" 2002, chromogenic color print, 20x24

Artists:


Jennifer Blazina
Washington, D.C.

K. Johnson Bowles
Farmville, VA

Caryl Burtner
Richmond, VA

Susan Eder
Falls Church, VA

John Lehr
Baltimore, MD

Richard Roth
Richmond, VA


Curator:

Elizabeth Schlatter
Washington, D.C.


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