Exhibits explore various cultures

Sunday, May 18, 2008

A Girard man and a New Castle woman are among the featured artists.

the vindicator

NEW CASTLE, Pa. — Four ethnic investigations into contemporary art are the subject of the Hoyt Institute of Fine Art’s newest rotation of exhibits this spring. The works by Sun Young Kang, Brenda Bates Clark, Michele Perelman and Jack Carlton will be in the galleries Tuesday through June 27.

Whether stimulated by their native cultures or those they are drawn to, the artists communicate the symbolism, ritual and rite of world cultures, utilizing a range of traditional and nontraditional mediums.

“The Inner Path,” a collection of new works by Pittsburgh artist Sun Young Kang, evaluates the Korean-born artist’s Buddhist religion to discover the truth in life through sculptural books.

“Most of my books are based on the idea of 108, a significant number in Buddhism”, said Kang, and each employs a repetition of printing text, cutting pages or burning paper 108 times to build each work. By doing so Kang invites the reader to participate in the meditative practice of repeating Buddhist vows and telling Buddhist beads 108 times as they turn each page.

Kang has a master’s degree in book arts/printmaking from University of the Arts in Philadelphia. She has exhibited in numerous juried and group shows both nationally and internationally. She is a book conservator at the Carnegie Public Library in Pittsburgh.

Brenda Bates Clark’s series “Long Ago Today” is a collection of historically inspired raku works, the culmination of years of research into the ritual symbolism of ancient cultures in Africa, Asia, Europe and the Pre-Americas.

Though Bates describes her work as “linked with the origins of the peoples and their migrations into new lands”, she also sees them as “natural rhythms that stir the primal heartbeat within us all.”

Bates, a self-taught ceramist from the Southwest, currently resides in Kingston, N.Y.

Girard-based artist Jack Carlton presents his latest work under the title “We Were Once There.”

Influenced by the inukshuk, an Inuit word that describes piled stone cairns that often take the form of human figures, the exhibit includes a series of sculptural works created from architectural elements and wooden objects from the Mahoning Valley’s steel industry. The Inuit use these cairns to mark safe fishing harbors, but more importantly to express their presence in the barren landscape — as Carlton similarly views himself and his heritage in the geography of his Mahoning Valley.

An MFA graduate of the School of the Museum of Fine Arts, Boston and Tufts University, Carlton teaches printmaking at Hiram College and Youngstown State University. He is curator and coordinator for the Murals Project: Museum Without Walls and director of the Windows Project, both in Youngstown. His work can be found in the collections of the Butler Institute of American Art, Harvard University, Columbia University and other public museum collections.

New Castle native Michele Perelman debuts a collection of photographs titled “Photographing Rajasthan: Women in India,” which chronicles a 2004 visit to that nation. Bound by centuries of tradition and values, one would not readily identify these images as 21st-century women. Fabric and jewelry provide clues as to their financial status, marriage, and regional habitation, offering the viewer a story within the story of Indian culture.

Perelman recently received her master’s degree in liberal studies in contemporary American art from Kent State University. Her work has received several nods in area shows, including the Butler Institute of American Art’s Mid Year Show, the Hoyt Institute of Fine Art’s Mid Atlantic and Regional Shows, and the Youngstown YWCA’s annual Celebration of Women in the Arts.

All four artists will be present at a reception 2-4 p.m. June 1. Gallery hours are 10 a.m. to 8 p.m. Tuesday and Thursday; and 10 a.m. to 5 p.m. Wednesday, Friday and Saturday. Admission is free.