GSFA’s artists get their star turn

The first thing most people think of when they think of the Graduate School of Fine Arts is architecture. Then, maybe, city planning.

But what about art?

Well, what about it? It’s doing quite well in the GSFA, thank you, and the recent Fine Arts faculty show at the Arthur Ross Gallery drove that point home.

And to reinforce it, Dean Gary Hack had the school’s overseers on hand to check out the opening of the first faculty exhibition on campus in five years, “New Faces, New Media, New Directions,” Dec. 4.

There was no mistaking this for a corporate board meeting, though. While the overseers in suits and dresses exchanged pleasantries and general social chitchat, the faculty and students in sweaters, jeans and T-shirts were glad to talk about the art.

Assistant Professor Joshua Mosley, one of those “new faces,” noted the great breadth of talent on display. “For such a small group of faculty, it’s a diverse body of work,” he noted.

Is it ever. There was whimsy on display — Senior Critic Nigel Rolfe’s “Night and Fog,” a photo of a man blowing mist on himself with a portable fan. And there was abstraction — Associate Professor Terry Adkins’ sculptures from found objects (“I prefer to call them ‘potential disclosure,’” he said).

Then there was the symbol-laden work of Assistant Professor Jackie Tileston, which had me asking heavy questions of two other faculty members. Are those patterns across the bottom further expression of the Hindu religious symbols incorporated into the paintings? (Nope; it turns out they’re fractal patterns.) Would we get more out of them if we were familiar with Asian culture? (“Have you ever seen what doctors do when they watch ‘ER’?” one of them replied.) And are those serpents and horses in that light blue blot up there?

I guess this proves that every text does have two creators.

Julie Schneider, adjunct associate professor, whose sensual drawings graced the entrance to the exhibit, expressed her pleasure with Dean Hack’s support of freedom of artistic expression. “There is no censorship in the fine arts program,” she said.

But what did the overseers think about this show of talent? One of the newest, Joseph Duckworth (WG’72), was impressed.

“I’m particularly moved by [Gutman Professor and Chair] John Moore’s Tel Aviv paintings,” he said.

Those paintings are luminous depictions of the city skyline. Duckworth is a real estate developer who counts Martin and Margy Meyerson Professor of Urbanism Witold Rybczynski among his close colleagues.

Seems even when the focus is on fine art, there’s no escaping architecture at the GSFA.


Originally published on January 18, 2001