September 14, 2020

An image from the exhibit.

Tillie Murphy, a senior art history major, and John Figura, director of Salve Regina Gallery and visiting assistant professor, had only just celebrated the opening of their exhibition The Figure Interpreted: Redux in March. Then, visitors to the gallery vanished as concerns grew over the coronavirus pandemic. The curators needed to find another way to bring their exciting, enticing exhibition — focused on intimacy and expression within the human form — to life.

Initially unable to allow critics, collectors, and friends of the artists to view the artwork in-person,  Murphy and Figura adjusted their approach and transformed their exhibition to both a virtual and an in-person experience. 

“I think the main challenge of transitioning an in-person exhibition into an online experience was finding specific ways to make work come alive,” says Murphy. “The advantage of a gallery space on campus is that it allows any student or faculty member who enters Salve Regina Hall to interact with the art on an intimate level. Now, we had to find methods of keeping the art intimate while online. Our solution was videos that provided both explanations and tours of the exhibition.”

The Figure Interpreted: Redux highlights the work of eight contemporary artists, Steve Lewis, Kevin Mitchell, Wolfgang Jasper, Adam Bradley, Sarah Wegnew, Regina Miele, Erik Sandberg, and Joseph Lozano. The art featured in the exhibition spans across three mediums — painting, drawing, and sculpture — which “parallels the tactile sensuousness and corporeal weight of flesh.” 

“The body is relatable and expressive. It has the ability to communicate through gesture and facial expression, and through its own unique attributes, in ways that abstract images cannot,” writes Murphy in her introduction to the exhibition. “By exploring the body and its contours, beauty and horror, fecundity and mortality, we are able to observe and learn from others and ourselves.”

The exhibition, originally scheduled to appear in the Salve Regina Gallery March 5 to April 4, is one of Murphy’s first hands-on experiences curating an exhibition. As one of two seniors majoring in art history, she attributes the increased individual attention to experience and study as an art history major. 

“The main advantage of being part of a smaller academic department is that I get so much one-on-one attention from my professors,” says Murphy. “This small community leads to the development of many personal friendships with the advisors and professors in the art school. Due to this increased individual attention, I have been offered many awesome opportunities such as assisting with on-campus exhibitions and interviewing local curators and art historians.”

The Figure Interpreted: Redux is available for viewing in the Salve Regina Gallery until Sept. 30, or online

Jessica Fetrow, B.A. 2021, Marketing and Communications Intern. For more information, contact communications@cua.edu.

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