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Students learn more about HB9 and SB6.
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Murray State’s Alliance organization, the College Democrats and other students gathered today to rally against the progressing state legislation...

Boxes are located in Waterfield Library, the Curris Center, residential colleges and the Alumni Center.
Murray State RCA leads book drive across campus
Ania Boutin, Chief Videographer • February 29, 2024

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Eagle gallery presents 4 new exhibits

Venus+Walks+on+Pearls+is+featured+in+the+left+corner+of+the+gallery.+
Gray Hawkins
“Venus Walks on Pearls” is featured in the left corner of the gallery.

Murray State’s Art and Design Department is kicking off the spring semester with a set of exciting, vivid and thought-provoking exhibitions by artists inside and outside the Murray community. 

The Mary Ed Mecoy Hall and Clara M. Eagle Galleries are Murray State’s hub of artistic expression, where the community can appreciate art in many forms. T. Michael Martin, director of University Galleries, called the gallery programming a conduit to provide students and other viewers with a variety of experiences. 

“Some exhibits spotlight a single medium, [while] some touch on diverse practices associated with a specific [medium] or multiple mediums at once,” Martin said. “[They] explore thematic concerns and… position the viewer in an arena of complex contemporary issues. This variety can invigorate the experimentation of a student as they develop their creative practice.” 

The start of this semester has brought four exciting new exhibitions to Murray State. 

 

“Vivid Terrain”

By Jessica Fife and Katie Knoeringer

As visitors enter through the Mary Ed Mecoy Hall Gallery, they are introduced to the separate yet thematically similar works of Jessica Fife and Katie Knoeringer. The artists worked independently but found commonality in their emphasis on color, interior and figure.

Knoeringer’s portion of Mary Ed Mecoy Hall features six paper collages, offering viewers a glimpse into her world. (Gray Hawkins)

Knoeringer, assistant professor of drawing at Murray State, presented six paper collages on her half of Mary Ed Mecoy Hall. She took observational drawings from her sketchbook and recreated them with acrylic-washed cuts of paper. Three depict scenes from her patio in Philadelphia, while the others are various locations in Kentucky.

“I like to think that they’re playful and whimsical in a sense… I think the way I’m using color is like a translation from a pencil line drawing,” Knoeringer said.

The vivid colors of these collages come from Knoeringer’s creative liberties. When working from sketches, the colors only exist in her memory and her interpretations of how the darks and lights can interact.

Fife, assistant professor of painting at Murray State, composed her half of the exhibition of five oil canvas portraits. She said each portrait is of someone she knows and loves, with the exception of a stranger depicted in “Iron Sharpens Iron.”

A self-portrait of Fife. (Gray Hawkins)

 The spectrum of subjects and colors paints an array of Fife’s artistic versatility.

“The reason I picked each of them is they’re all pretty different as far as their walks of life and visually,” Fife said. “Some of the pieces are narrative, some of them are straight portraits.”

Fife and Knoeringer carry histories with art that span back to childhood, and they joined the University faculty at the same time in the fall of 2022. 

Knoeringer standing beside one of her six paper collages. (Gray Hawkins)

Knoeringer received her undergraduate degrees from the University of Pennsylvania and her graduate from Louisiana State University. She is trained in painting and drawing, but she began working with her sketch-to-collage translations in 2018.

She said her art has changed and morphed over the years but has always remained with her. Later this spring, more of Knoeringer’s work will be featured in the Murray Art Guild.

Fife’s love of painting specifically began in undergraduate school at California State University, Long Beach. After receiving her graduate degree at California State University, Fullerton and pursuing her teaching career, she said she hasn’t always had the time to work independently and the gallery has given her a great excuse to create. While “Vivid Terrain” includes her portraiture, she also has a history of surrealist work.

 

“Ocean Womb”

“Venus Walks on Pearls”

By Danielle Riede

Clara Eagle’s first floor exhibits the works of Danielle Riede, professor of painting at Herron School of Art and Design in Indianapolis, Indiana. 

“Ocean Womb” is a series of paintings that began in 2018 and an accompanying video. The series was inspired by a 2015 collaboration with a dancer that Riede said reconnected her to her roots in dance and gymnastics. The fluidity of the paintings call back to intuitive dance movements. Riede’s spontaneity in her artwork even extended to painting new pieces on site while speaking to Martin.

“Ocean Womb” features paintings and a video inspired by Riede’s passion for dance. (Gray Hawkins)

The “Venus Walks on Pearls” installation is set into the walls of the Clara M. Eagle Gallery’s left corner. This is Riede’s second rendition of the piece, as the first was presented in an exhibition in Germany. Its composition began with laying a string of pearls over an unfinished piece she saw in a French art catalog and later became a large-scale work of paint, pearls and magnets. Her love of storytelling also brings elements of fantasy and mythology to the piece and allows for an interpretive experience. 

“It’s ephemeral in a way because it will never exist the same way,” Riede said. “That work as it is will never be recreated the same way. It’s a one-of-a-kind piece for [Murray State].” 

Riede entered the University of Virginia to study architecture, but she found she was happiest in her drawing and painting classes. After changing her major and graduating, she took a residency in Italy. She later traveled between the United States and Germany for graduate school at Virginia Commonwealth University and the Kunstakademie Düesseldorf, a fine arts academy in Düesseldorf, Germany. Her works have been featured in many exhibitions internationally.

 

“Bounding Box”

By Martin Lang and Thomas Wharton

A two-person show by Martin Lang and Thomas Wharton can be found in the Eagle Upper Gallery. Named after a rectangular framing tool used in Photoshop, this exhibition explores art in a confined space.

Lang’s works are nine-panel grid sets made from metal, glass and laminated cork. Each piece is set onto an aluminum bar frame reminiscent of window panels and the metal grid exterior of a bar Lang visited in college. The metal panels have digital drawings set into them that are affected by lighting. Other grids include components like postcard sets and sculpted wood.

Wharton’s portion of the show consists of photographs, paintings and sculptures all centered around a spindle acting as a sundial. While the photographs seem abstract at first, they show different times and seasons Wharton documented from his backyard in an effort to adapt a natural subject to a confined rectangular space. Realistic oil paintings depict the same images as the photos to blur the line between photographs and paintings. The sculptures are simultaneously artistic and utilitarian. 

The two-person show “Bounding Box” features the work of duo Martin Lang and Thomas Wharton. (Gray Hawkins)

Wharton has been working in this style for the past seven years. While living in Nebraska, he began painting light switches. He said the switch’s control of light in the room and the painting itself formed a feedback loop he wanted to explore.

“I asked why I was painting and drawing dimmer switches when I can make my own,” Wharton said. “A lot of these spindles in my previous works act as dimmer switches… With this project, instead of having it document just light, it can document time.”

Lang and Wharton met while studying at the University of Tennessee, where they also met Martin. They presented a similar two-person show titled “Palace Gardens” at the University of Dallas.

Lang is the program chair and assistant professor of studio art at Columbia College in Columbia, South Carolina. He studied photography at Webster University for his undergraduate degree and transmedia art at the University of Tennessee for his graduate studies. Lang has worked with metal and incorporated the limited bedspace of laser cutters into his art since 2020.

Wharton is an assistant professor of art at Briar Cliff University in Sioux City, Iowa. He received his undergraduate from Savannah College of Art and Design and his graduate from the University of Tennessee in painting and drawing. He has done artist visits and taken teaching positions across the country. His works have been exhibited from New York to Nevada. 

These four exhibitions embody the experimental and unique atmosphere the University art galleries strive to present. 

“Ultimately, the exhibits I program are to be a resource for the students to expand on their visions and to question and analyze physical objects within a safe contemplative space,” Martin said. “In my work and research as a curator, I strive to provide exhibitions of a high-caliber that engage with the students and the greater regional community for the viewing and study of art.”

University galleries are open for visitation Monday through Friday from 8 a.m. to 4:30 p.m.

On Thursday, Feb. 15, “Bounding Box” creators Lang and Wharton will return to the Eagle Gallery for an artist talk at 5 p.m.

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About the Contributor
Gray Hawkins, Staff writer
Gray Hawkins is a freshman journalism major. They enjoy writing, reading, listening to some music and playing D&D. Some of their favorite book series are: The Inheritance Cycle, Six of Crows and Percy Jackson and the Olympians. They spend most of their time in the dorm with their ESA bearded dragon, Monarch.

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