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Bethlehem, Pa., February 7, 2008—Payne Gallery of Moravian College will exhibit recent works by New York City artist Grace Graupe Pillard, whose paintings and digital images explore social and political issues. The exhibit, Displaced/Interventions, will run from February 7 to March 16. An opening reception will be held on Thursday, February 7 from 6:30 to 8:30 p.m.
Interest in human rights, history, and politics have always framed the creation of Pillard’s work. Incorporating painting, drawing, photography, collage, mixed media, and video, it is rich with color, shape, and abstraction. Pillard’s personal and social experiences have a constant voice and shape. Her work visualizes an ordinary existence amidst intrusion and violence, symbolically lived within a politic of fear. “...what is beauty when it describes suffering or horror?” asks Dan Bischoff, art critic from The Star Ledger.
Displaced/Interventions challenges the viewer to reframe everyday references to social and political events. Eccentric shapes, deconstruction, flatly colored forms, are juxtaposed to seemingly unrelated imagery. We are compelled to reexamine surface meanings and our relationships to shared events and images. Pillard’s implanted imagery coexists in an everyday reality which is blown apart. To view images visit the Web site http://ggp.neoimages.net/
The mixed-media exhibit is comprised of 6 large paintings from a series entitled Displaced; 14 pigment prints (digital images 40” x 60”) from a series entitled Interventions; a series of 10 photographs of drawings that Graupe Pillard created at the bedside of her mother who was dying in Hospice, called Stop Stealing My Face. The exhibit will also include video monitors playing the video Stop Stealing My Face, which can be previewed on the Web at http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=Krue4m5Tdvs. The video contains drawings of Graupe Pillard’s mother, a refugee from Nazi Germany, while she was dying in Hospice, which create a visual diary—interspersed with images of war. Marlene Dietrich is singing Pete Seeger's moving song that serves as the link between the personal and political.
The other video, Interventions – Red, White, and Blue, can be viewed at http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=v2t8jZxX0ZA. It is part two of Interventions—war brought home to cities of New York juxtaposed with red white and blue images of violence from popular culture. The piece speaks to the politics of fear and the abrogation of constitutional rights in the name of that fear
For the past 5 years, Graupe Pillard has been working on this series of paintings based on the devastating effect of war and its impact on the civilian population—a persistent theme in her art. The Displacement series correlates the dislocation of civilians in war-torn countries with a visual disintegration of form, evident in both the creative process and in the final painted product. “In each painting, the chaos of cultural disintegration is symbolized by the fragmentation of the picture plane through the reduction of forms into unpredictable, flatly colored eccentric shapes further emphasizing the collapse of form from its original photographic source,” Graupe Pillard notes. “The process of translating these images into oil paintings involves a change in scale, color and texture, portraying a seductive beauty that reflects the political “sanitization” of the horrors of war. In this body of work I attempt to integrate many of my passions: painting, color, collage, photography, construction and reconstruction, reductivism and graphic simplification, the study of history and the plight of human misery and suffering.”
The daughter of German Jews that came to New York to escape the Holocaust, Grace Graupe Pillard was born in the Washington Heights section of New York City. After attending the High School of Music and Art, Graupe-Pillard received a degree in history and political science from City College of New York. Phillip Guston awarded her the 1967 George Bridgeman Memorial Scholarship for drawing. After working as a photo-realist, her interest in becoming an artist grew. Graupe-Pillard has done a number of public commissions in New Jersey using cut-out paintings, including three at New Jersey Transit’s Hudson Bergen light-rail stations. Her work is displayed in numerous public and private collections throughout the United States. Additionally, her work has been shown at The Proposition Gallery in New York City and the Carl Hammer Gallery in Chicago, Illinois. Since 1975, Graupe Pillard has led a weekly painter’s studio workshop in Middletown, N.Y. More recently, she has also been teaching a master class for experienced artists at the Edwin Austin Abbey Mural Workshop at the National Academy Museum in Manhattan. In 1985, she was the recipient of an individual artist’s grant from the National Endowment of the Arts. She has also been the recipient of three grants from the New Jersey State Council on the Arts.
Payne Gallery is located on the Priscilla Payne Hurd Campus of Moravian College, in Historic Bethlehem, Pennsylvania. The Gallery is open 11:00 a.m. - 4:00 p.m. Tuesday through Sunday. The gallery is closed Mondays, major holidays and during school breaks. Admission and parking are free, and the Gallery is wheelchair accessible. Bethlehem is sixty miles north of Philadelphia and ninety miles west of New York City. For more information, call 610 861-1491.
Moravian College is a private, coeducational, selective liberal arts college located in Bethlehem, Pennsylvania. Tracing its founding to 1742, it is recognized as America's sixth-oldest college. Visit the Web site at www.moravian.edu.