Images Critiquing Contemporary Culture Focus of New Rutgers–Camden Center for the Arts Exhibition

By Tom McLaughlin

Pointed images used to comment on contemporary culture – and not merely record it – are front and center as the Rutgers–Camden Center for the Arts hosts a provocative exhibition, “Sharp-Tongued Figuration,” through April 21.

Mickalene Thomas, Din Avec la Main Dans le Miroir, 2008, acrylic, rhinestones, and enamel on wood panels, 120 in x 96 in, courtesy of the Pennsylvania Academy of the Fine Arts, Philadelphia, John Lambert Fund and A.R.S. (Artists Rights Society), New York.

“These images aren’t focused on being beautiful, but rather serving as critical voices,” says curator Andrea Kirsh, a visiting part-time lecturer of museum studies at Rutgers University–Camden. “They aren’t looking at the world through rose-colored glasses.”

The free, public exhibition, showcasing the works of a diverse group of contemporary artists, is held in the Stedman Gallery, located in the Fine Arts Complex on Third Street, between Cooper Street and the Benjamin Franklin Bridge on the Rutgers University–Camden campus.

Featured artists include Camden native Mickalene Thomas, who uses the scale and some of the glossy seduction of billboards to create portraits of her friends executed in mixed-media collages; she also works in photography and video. Peru native Kukuli Velarde, who lives and works in Philadelphia, fashions ceramic sculptures that adopt techniques and imagery drawn from pre-Incan Peruvian cultures – all of which include the image of the artist.

The exhibition also includes Sue Coe, a British social satirist working in New York, in the tradition of George Grosz, who produces illustrations for books and print publications, such as The New York Times, as well as drawings and prints. The watercolors and digital prints of Newark-based Nell Painter include both hand-drawn and collaged imagery; she uses them to re-write various histories, including that of the white slave trade and the history of modern art. Sandy Winters’ complex paintings illustrate a dystopian future with creatures whose bodies combine biomorphic forms with appendages derived from the hardware store.

Gallery hours are Monday to Saturday, 10 a.m. to 4 p.m., and Thursday 10 a.m. to 8 p.m.

For more information, visit rcca.camden.rutgers.edu or contact Nancy Maguire at 856-225-6245.

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