Tuesday’s Objet: Rosalyn Richards

Our Tuesday’s Objet series (pronounced “OB-JAY” from the French word for “object”) intends to highlight pieces on display outside the physical confines of our gallery spaces, to draw attention to the art that surrounds us on a daily basis.

Today we’re headed to the 3rd floor of the biology building. In the student lounge, to the right both entrance doors, lives Web, an oil painting by Rosalyn Richards.

Rosalyn Richards, Web, 1990. Oil on Canvas. Gift of the artist.

Richards received her BFA from the Rhode Island School of Design, and her MFA from Yale University School of Art. She taught drawing and printmaking at Bucknell from 1982 to 2014. We have a multitude of her work in our permanent collection, and Web specifically was included in a recent exhibition curated by our Gallery Engagement Team.

Richards explores the inner world of natural elements and processes through painting, printmaking, and drawing. She’s inspired by images culled from scientific disciplines such as biology, particle physics, satellite photography, biotechnology, radiology, and geological survey maps. Her work engages with our understanding of the natural world, a perspective that is largely mediated by technology. She describes her images as “metaphors for the human impulse to search for hidden meaning within… natural structures.”[1] At first glance, Richards’ work reads like an abstracted canvas in rich greens and blues. Looking closer, the saturated color palette juxtaposes organic forms in a collage-like manner. They are definitely reminiscent of organic structures like coral or webbing.

Rosalyn Richards, Web, 1990. Oil on Canvas. Gift of the artist.

Richards’ creative impulses reminded me of a class I took in graduate school, which paralleled the rise of empiricism in the early modern period with its visual depictions in prints. The class’s theoretical framework focused on the epistemological shift of the practice of observation. Prior to the early modern period, observation was considered an anecdotal process, something associated more with divination than science. But, with the invention of the telescope and the microscope, we were no longer limited to what our naked eyes could sense. Whole worlds opened up, from the cosmic to the microscopic. Eventually observation was intertwined with experiment, as a fundamental component to scientific inquiry. With the aid of sense-enhancing instruments, this symbiotic pairing yielded a plethora of scientific discoveries, from Galileo’s recording of the moon’s surface to the beginnings of cell biology. I link Richards’ interest in making the invisible visible to the inevitable reverberations of this larger culture advancement.

If you’d like to know more about Rosalyn and her work, check out her website. If the intricate history of observation intrigues you, check out this book, which was the epistemological backdrop of the course I took.

[1] “Artist Statement,” Rosalyn Richards, accessed November 11, 2016, http://www.rosalynrichards.com/artist-statement/.

Tuesday’s Objet: Frederick Franck

Our Tuesday’s Objet series (pronounced “OB-JAY” from the French word for “object”) intends to highlight pieces on display outside the physical confines of our gallery spaces, to draw attention to the art that surrounds us on a daily basis.

My thin Florida skin still shrinks from the customary winter chill, but I was determined to explore a piece of public sculpture on campus this week. Seven Generations, by artist/writer Frederick Franck, can be found just off 7th street, between Kress Hall and the Career Development & Human Resources building. It is a series of 6 figural outlines in steel, graduating in size, and painted black. They are spaced so that, when looking at the sculpture head on, each figure visually encases the smaller figure behind it.

Frederick Franck, Seven Generations, 1991. Steel. University Purchase.

 

Frederick Franck, Seven Generations, 1991. Steel. University Purchase. Side View.

Dr. Frederick Sigfred Franck (April 12, 1909 – June 5, 2006), was a painter, sculptor, and author who was deeply passionate about human spirituality. He was born in The Netherlands, trained as a dental surgeon, and became a United States citizen in 1945. From 1958-1961, he operated a dental surgery office with the Nobel prize winning humanitarian Dr. Albert Schweitzer in West Africa. His sculptures are in the collections of the Museum of Modern Art, the Whitney Museum of American Art, the Fogg Art Museum, the Tokyo National Museum, and the Cathedral of St. John the Divine. Perhaps his most well known creation is the sculpture garden/park/meditative space adjacent to his home in Warwick, New York, called Pacem in Terris, which is Latin for “Peace on Earth.” Franck dedicated the park to Dr. Schweitzer, as well as to Pope John XXIII, and D.T. Suzuki, all of whom he valued as mentors. More than 70 of Franck’s works are exhibited there, and it is currently run by a non-profit foundation.

Detail: Frederick Franck, Seven Generations.

A small plaque at the base of the largest figure of Seven Generations reads, “In all our deliberations we must be mindful of the impact of decisions on the next seven generations – From the Great Law of the Six Nations Iriquois Confederacy.” Franck was inspired by the Constitution of the Iroquois Nations, part of which encourages a future-centric ethos, formatting it specifically within an environmental context. In a letter to the University, he wrote, “I am delighted that my Seven Generations will be on the Bucknell campus and that it may sharpen the awareness of students of our responsibilities to the generations to follow ours and to the earth itself. It may even last as proof to our successors, struggling with the tribulations we bequeath to them, that at the end of the twentieth century some of their predecessors were not unconcerned with this heritage.”[1] The piece’s dedication, in February 1992, was scheduled to occur in conjunction with a forum on the “Environmental Imperative,” initiated by then University President Gary Sojka.

Originally, the sculpture had 7 figures. The smallest was an image of a human fetus, affixed to the sixth section. Unfortunately, within a month of its dedication, the fetus figure and the explanatory plaque vanished. At the time, faculty members and students were upset, claiming the thefts as acts of violence against Native Americans. However, rumors circulated that the sculpture advocated a pro-life stance, and a series of university-wide debates ensued. Though eventually returned, both components would go missing again, and while the plaque remains, the image of the fetus does not.

Recently, the sculpture briefly came to our attention again; earlier this year persons unknown adorned the figures with pink pussy hats. They’ve since been removed (again by persons unknown), but it is interesting to note that this sculpture continues to be a stronghold for political and civic expression.

[1] Dr. Frederick Franck, letter to Dr. Robert Metzger, January 20, 1992.

 

 

Dust & Light

Weis Center Lobby
March 20-September 10

Jack Delano emigrated from Russia as a child in 1923, settling in Philadelphia with his family.  After attending the Pennsylvania Academy of Fine Arts to study both visual art and music, Jack proposed a project to the Works Progress Administration to photograph coal miners and their lives in central PA. The federal WPA program agreed to fund Jack’s project and the result is presented here in its entirety.

These photographs blur the line between photojournalism and fine art. They offer a candid vision of life in and around the mines in 1938. At the same time, Jack’s skilled use of the visual language of photography reveals both his artistic sensibility and the mood of his subjects. With the support of the WPA, Jack was able to capture the spirit of a community and to preserve a chapter of American history written in dust and light.

Gallery Locations

The Samek Gallery
3rd Floor, Elaine Langone Center
Bucknell University

The Downtown Gallery
416 Market Street
Lewisburg, PA 17837