‘Transitions & Journeys’ transforms gallery with lighting, shadow, imagery

October 13, 2009 | Arts
By Angela Riddel

“Transitions & Journeys” is a two-person exhibition of artwork created by UT Art Department faculty members Arturo Rodriguez and Deborah Orloff while they were on sabbatical during the 2008-09 school year.

“Con Dos Manos,” styrene relief in ink, by Arturo Rodriguez

“Con Dos Manos,” styrene relief in ink, by Arturo Rodriguez

It is on display in the UT Center for the Visual Arts on the Toledo Museum of Art Campus through Sunday, Nov. 22.

An opening reception will be held Friday, Oct. 16, from 6 to 9 p.m. in the Center for the Visual Arts.

Orloff is a professor of art and teaches and coordinates photography in the new media area. Rodriguez is an associate professor of art in printmaking and director of the printmaking area.

For this exhibition, the artists utilize the Center for the Visual Arts Gallery and extend the show into the public space of the first floor. The gallery is transformed into a dramatic darkened space to create a special visual experience in which the works themselves provide the only light in the gallery.

In the gallery, Rodriguez’s hand-cast shadow puppets are reminiscent of childhood games while his video installation evokes dream imagery projected in water. He said his work is rooted in himself and the fact that he is an uneven mixture of elements from Cuban and American cultures — not really a blend, but not fully one or the other, either.

“In my mixed-media prints, I like to take images that one might find on the walls of an average American home and combine them with some of my earliest visual memories about the United States: cartoons. For me, this way of working is akin to culture in Cuba itself and to a lesser degree, Cuban-American life in Miami,” he explained. “In working with this disparate visual imagery, I become aware of compositional problems that are inherent when working with two distinct visual realities. As a result, my aim is to morph the works into a symbiotic whole. Scarcity and imported imagery are part of the motivation in the work. For me, this way of working constitutes an accurate metaphor for Cuban aesthetics.”

“Holzwege 30,” chromogenic print (photographic print), by Deborah Orloff

“Holzwege 30,” chromogenic print (photographic print), by Deborah Orloff

Orloff’s life-size, scaled projection situates the viewer in her elusively shifting landscapes. In the auxiliary space adjacent to the gallery, viewers can see Orloff’s large-scale photomontages from her “Holzwege” series as well as recent mixed-media prints by Rodriguez.

“I create ambiguous landscapes through the layering of multiple photographs. I combine the images digitally to create surreal, new spaces where one photograph disappears into the next,” Orloff said. “These invented landscapes function as metaphors for the universal experience we all have inevitably, when our lives suddenly change; just when you think you know where you’re going, unexpected circumstances dictate a change of plans.

“Ultimately, the images are meant to be ethereal and optimistic, conveying the sense of wonder that exists when we open ourselves up to new possibilities and realize that change is often fortuitous.”

“Transitions & Journeys” can be viewed Monday through Saturday from 9 a.m. to 10 p.m. and Sunday from 10 a.m. to 10 p.m.

For more information on the free, public exhibit, call the Department of Art at 419.530.8300 or go to www.utoledo.edu/as/art.

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