Allcott Gallery Exhibition: Alumni Exhibition, Sharon Lee Hart and Ashley Oates
ALUMNI EXHIBITION: SHARON LEE HART AND ASHLEY OATES
17 January – 7 February 2013
Exhibition reception: Thursday, 17 January, 6-8 pm
HANES VISITING ARTIST LECTURE: SHARON LEE HART
17 January 2013, 6:00 pm
121 Hanes Art Center
Sharon Lee Hart, MFA 2007, has published her recent photographic work as Sanctuary: Portraits of Rescued Farm Animals. Her poignant black and white portraits celebrate the lives of farm animals and make a passionate plea to animal lovers everywhere. The photographs depict dignity, emotion, humor, and the unique personalities of each animal. Essays and handwritten stories provide insight into the animals’ daily lives, as well as their rescue and rehabilitation. This book reveals the unstoppable spirit of farm animals and pays tribute to their emotional, social, and intellectual lives.
Project statement: In my work I investigate the relationship between humans and other animals and how non-human animals are represented in a myriad ways in our culture. The meanings that are imposed on animals are so infinite that some of us forget that every animal is an individual. My “Sanctuary” project focuses on the inner lives of farmed animals and their existence as unique beings. I visited and photographed the animal residents at ten US farm animal sanctuaries, which are all dedicated to the rescue, rehabilitation, and lifelong care of abused and neglected farmed animals. A formal portrait was made of each animal to highlight his or her personality and convey dignity. The resulting photographs are black and white to emphasis a sense of tradition and to keep the focus on each animal’s expression. I did not photograph animals that were still suffering to avoid causing any further distress. I approached my project from an angle that encourages people to linger over the photographs and contemplate the personality of the animal in front of them.
The portraits of each animal are titled with their individual names and where they reside. The fact that they live at a sanctuary is significant as they are in essence the “lottery winners” that live in a safe environment while billions of their species are tortured and killed. This motivated me to photograph each animal in his or her home. I spent time with the animals I photographed observing and waiting until they approached me. Like many intriguing portraits the images show the relationship between the photographer and the sitter. I put myself in whatever position necessary in order to engage and make eye contact with each animal I photographed. I waited for something that moved beyond superficial depiction, which in some cases was a subtle expression, a gaze, a change in body language, a mood, or an emotional exchange between the animal and myself. When exhibiting this project, I typically print the photographs 40 by 40 inches to enable the viewer to see all of the small details and look into the animal’s eyes. Handwritten stories written by sanctuary founders and workers about each animal are shown alongside the photographs.
Continuing with the themes of Sharon’s project described above, Ashley Oates, MFA 2001, uses photography and gouache to construct retables that document, honor, transform and hold tight the many different heroic animals who find their way to her. These animals, that are at times powerless to the whims of humans, metaphorically represent many subjugated people who are powerless to the unreliability of those in control.
Project statement: Drawing upon fictional characters from Watership Down, The Story of Edgar Sawtelle and A Room of One’s Own, I create small worlds where the inhabitants struggle and contend with the slippery choice of being protected or being controlled. What do we give up to be protected? This series, Burrow, uses photograms to explore the binary relationships of strength and fragility; truth and fiction; protection and vulnerability.
Photograms, without being beholden to Renaissance perspective, play by their own rules of representation. They create traces, outlines, memories of what once lay on the photosensitive material. What remains is the inherent duality of absence and presence.
An endowment established in 1983 through the generosity of Nancy and Robin Hanes supports the Art Department's Visiting Artist Series. This important program brings both established and emerging artists to campus to discuss their work in public lectures and to offer individual critiques to our M.F.A. students. The Hanes Visiting Artist series greatly enriches both our academic programs and our outreach to the wider community. All lectures are free and open to the public.
Gallery Hours: Monday-Friday, 8 am-5 pm
For more information please contact Jina Valentine: firstname.lastname@example.org
Top: Sharon Lee Hart, Aintcho, Sanctuary series, 2012, courtesy of the artist
Bottom: Ashley Oates, Warren I, Burrow series, 2012, courtesy of the artist