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Sarah Mattes ’06 curates Clifford Gallery exhibition that features work of peers

By Katie Rice '13 on November 15, 2012
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Cave Skeleton, David Gilbert (Photo by Mark Williams)

A video of a dying butterfly that has lost a wing. A three-dimensional gray backslash hung on the wall. Refigured images from the film Deep Throat. These artworks, currently on display as part of the Clifford Gallery exhibition External Original, may seem like dissimilar pieces, but curator Sarah Mattes ’06 sees a common thread.

A professional artist living and working in Brooklyn, Mattes is premiering at Colgate her first curatorial endeavor that features art by some of her peers.

All of the works make reference to poet Ezra Pound’s ideas of Imagism from the early 1900s. Pound’s Imagism was grounded in the idea that every person brings his or her own experiences to an object, even when viewing it objectively.

The 11 artists Mattes chose — from videographers to artists working with paper — presented their own point of view on this broad category. And, Mattes selected them because, “many of the artists here approach their work in the same way I do,” she said during a gallery talk and reception at the opening on October 31.

Through a convergence of mediums and forms, the artists in External Original “address process and the recording of a trace or history.” For example, Carmen Winant, a writer and artist, created a worn image using a still from the iconic movie Thelma and Louise. Winant visited the site in the movie where the car drove off the cliff and used materials that she collected there to distort the image.

Michael Berryhill uses oil paints to make richly colored paintings and then scrapes away paint so that it becomes “almost like a stone carving,” Mattes described.

In addition to introducing the exhibition, which runs until November 20, Mattes fielded questions from students about the life of a professional artist and the art world outside of Colgate. As is evident in her exhibition, Mattes values the importance of collaboration in the art world, saying: “Art after Colgate is not so much focused on figuring out who you are as an artist, but rather on helping peers with their work.”

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