Sunday, October 10, 2004

'Select' showcases winners from last three Summerfairs

By Jim Knippenberg
Enquirer staff writer

What: Summerfair Select: An Exhibition of Grant Winners, 2001-2003

Where: Main Gallery at Northern Kentucky University, Nunn Drive, Highland Heights

When: 9 a.m.-9 p.m. weekdays, weekends by appointment, through Oct. 29

Cost: Free

Information: (513) 531-0050 or

Twelve local artists put their best art forward in Summerfair Select, an exhibit showing off works of Summerfair's Aid to Individual Artists grant winners (AIA).

AIA grants are designed to provide funds for artists to pursue their muse in any way they see fit, as long as it enhances their work. Every third year, Summerfair sponsors an exhibit of the last three years' 12 winners.

We asked four of the winners to describe their inspirations:

Denise Burge

Burge, associate professor of art at UC and a 2001 winner, is a quilt makerwhose works are sort of free association - almost like when you're doodling and you keep adding one thing onto another.

"What I'm hoping people take away from these pieces in particular is an enjoyment of the formal or technical aspects of the work - the manipulation of color, the stitching, the process of how it was put together. And I hope they take away an expanded idea of what a quilt can be - to think of it not as a square of fabric but as a container of meaning."

Barbara Houghton

An art professor at Northern Kentucky University and 2002 AIA winner, Barbara Houghton is showing inkjet prints that she hopes will address the issue of where ideas come from. The prints are part of a larger work she calls "Dancing with Galileo."

"I think artists, no anybody, when they have a moment of clarity it always comes from the same inner place. A bunch of little things come together and you go 'ah hah!,' but it's not an epiphany. It's a series of small steps. I think these pictures illustrate that."

One of the pieces shows an out-of-focus priest's vestment, a drawing of an explosion and a planetary model. Her intention was to create a pictorial narrative of the disagreement Galileo had with the Catholic Church over his theory that the Earth revolved around the sun.

Rhonda Gushee

Gushee, an Art Academy and UC grad now teaching at the Art Academy and a 2003 grant winner, is exhibiting sculptures - mostly whimsical figures a bit smaller than life-size.

"Some people call them cement-rock people. It's all very tactile work, kind of pebbly, that I invite people to touch. I add other textures, too, like animal horns, fur, stitched fabric, silks and velvets, always enough elements so at least something is familiar enough to the viewer to give them a way into the work.

"But I also leave obscurities so the viewer can have a personal experience. For example, maybe the stitching will remind them of grandmother's quilt and stir up memories.

"To me it means healing as it addresses our connection to the primal. It's the dark side and humorous side of dealing with the unseen world."

Steven Fink

Sculptor Steven Fink, associate professor of art at Northern Kentucky University and a 2001 AIA winner, is showing "Hot Plate" and "Breathing Machine."They're part of a larger piece he's been working on for seven years called "The Cessation of Breath."

"I create sculptural pieces that serve as meditation devices that help viewer to relate to the process of death and dying.

"It's hard to say what I'd like people to take away from the piece. ... In an ideal situation, the viewer spends time with the work and then leaves to reflect on impermanence."

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