Institute faculty show features fruits of sabbaticals

September 01, 1993|By Mike Giuliano | Mike Giuliano,Contributing Writer

The annual Resident Artists Exhibition at the Maryland Institute, College of Art gives us a chance to see what faculty members recently on sabbatical have been up to. Liberated from the classroom, they often use this time to travel to different places both on the planet and in their work.

Paul Moscatt, for instance, is best known for his painted portraits. During a sabbatical trip to Europe, he put down his paintbrush and instead did a series of pastel drawings inspired by such art world heavyweights as Michelangelo. Some of these are fairly straightforward copies of masterpieces, but even in a drawing such as "From Rubens' 'The Three Graces' " Mr. Moscatt deploys sensuously curving lines that seem more a spontaneous response than a slavish copy.

Other drawings are much more tongue in cheek in how they treat the source paintings. In "Crowd Scene with Fra Angelico's 'St. Peter Martyr Asking for Silence,' " the depicted saint's finger-to-lips request for silence is ignored by the crowd of tourists gathered below the painting. Mr. Moscatt also pokes fun at the tourist experience in "Reinterpreting Masaccio's 'Expulsion from the Garden of Eden,' " in which Adam and Eve have just been turned away from a city hotel with only their travel bags to partly cover their nudity.

Turning to an in-house academic pun, "Modification of Giovanni da Asciano's 'Raising of Lazarus' " shows Christ raising from the dead a shrouded figure whose yellow bow tie and facial features bear a suspicious resemblance to Maryland Institute President Fred Lazarus.

Altogether different was a project completed by Susan Waters-Eller, who here brings together 64 small abstract paintings based on the Chinese book of divination, the "I Ching." Darkly energetic swirls and strands of paint extend from one painting to the next. The effect is vaguely cosmological, as if the universe were showing off everything from star clusters to black holes. Some of the titles -- "Difficulty at the Beginning -- Searching for Order in Chaos," for instance -- lend themselves to big thoughts about the cosmic glop from which we sprang.

Going from the macrocosmic to the microcosmic, Mark Karnes' watercolors, drawings and paintings are quietly realistic statements about the world he knows best. Views through a studio window, self-portraits and portraits of friends and relatives, a boatyard in Middle River, and even a bathroom sink confidently declare themselves and otherwise don't raise a fuss.

Jack Wilgus' series of computer-manipulated photographs, which he calls "The Geometry of Fantasy," are reports from the technological front on how the computer gives photographers a wider range of options. These include the ability to place images of himself within "bubbles" that then float through artificially conjured landscapes; still life groupings of pyramids, cones and spheres in which these geometric shapes and their "shadows" are created on a computer screen and ultimately photographed in deeply saturated colors; and a "Topiary Cow" whose vegetation-like skin seems appropriate considering the topiary garden serving as backdrop.

There are also two undoctored photographs by Mr. Wilgus of the Ladew Topiary Gardens in Monkton, which, when you think about it, is a real landscape that in its own way is as manipulated as anything you could do on a computer screen.

ART REVIEW

What: Resident Artists Exhibition

L Where: Meyerhoff Gallery, Maryland Institute, College of Art

When: 10 a.m. to 5 p.m. Monday to Wednesday, 10 a.m. to 9 Thursday and Friday, 10 a.m. to 5 p.m. Saturday, and noon to 5 p.m. Sunday, through Sept. 26

$ Call: (410) 225-2300

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