Artist talk and reception at John Slade Ely House Sunday
John Slade Ely House Center for Contemporary Art
51 Trumbull Street, New Haven, (203) 624-8055
Life Ascending: Three Views
Through Mar. 10, 2013
Artist Talk and Reception: Sun., Mar. 3, 2—5 p.m.
Press release from the John Slade Ely House
The John Slade Ely House launches its 2013 exhibition schedule with Life Ascending: Three Views running through March 10. Included are sculptures by Susan Classen-Sullivan of Canterbury, mixed media work by Jessica Goodyear of Branford, and photography by Frank Noelker of Storrs, all of Connecticut. An Artist Talk and Reception will be held Sun., Mar. 3, from 2—5 p.m. All events are free and open to the public.
Animals have been a subject of interest for artists since the Lascaux cave painters. Life Ascending: Three Views looks at animal forms in the context of renewed interest in life's common origins. Recent genetic evidence shows the preservation for over 500 million years of what scientists call "immortal genes”—and necessary for every lifeform from microbe to human being. For example, a gene that initiates the growth of an eye in a fly is the same as that in humans. Our new understanding of evolution leads us to see our fate as interconnected to that of all other animals.
Photographer Frank Noelker has witnessed the conditions of animals in captivity since early in his career. He has visited over three hundred zoos, sanctuaries, and farms around the world. Careful not to exploit his subjects for aesthetic concerns, he often frames his photographs with a wide, inclusive view exposing the stark reality of their environment. In his "Zoo" series animals sometimes appear in front of a painted reproduction of their native habitat giving them a toy-like appearance.
Artist/scientist Jessica Goodyear finds inspiration in the ornithological studies of James John Audubon. A video editor for the National Audubon Society in 1993, Goodyear reused the edit logs from that program as the ground upon which she xeroxed Audubon’s birds. Her recycled materials and images reflect a concern for the environment. The three-dimensional folding of the paper makes it impossible to see the work in its entirety from a single angle. Thus our stereoscopic vision interacts with the art in a way that requires and rewards extended viewing.
Susan Classen-Sullivan initially found the source for her exquisitely sculpted works in amphibians discovered while running. Sullivan was attracted to the expressive characteristics of their death throes. Transformed by direct observation into both life-size and larger than life-size pure white ceramic sculptures, they confront and invite us to look intimately at animals that are rarely scrutinized so closely. Embodying both ecstatic sensuality and extreme suffering, Classen-Sullivan's sculptures remind us that we share a common physical destiny with all animals.