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Portraits of Humanity

Art Preview

Apr. 5, 2008
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Award-winningMilwaukee sculptor Rory Burke continues to garner accolades, both nationally and internationally. In addition to a recent feature in the October 2007 Sculpture Magazine, she was named artist-in-residence at Switzerland’s International Sculpture Center. Burke will be spending two months, March and April, studying at the center. To top it off, it was announced in March that Burke would be a 2008 MARN mentor. Some of her recent works have been displayed at Hotcakes Gallery, and an upcoming exhibit will open April 17 at Elaine Erickson Gallery. The new exhibition, “Evolutions,” will feature this young and gifted artist’s innovative new sculptures.

Burke, best known for her small busts of men, fashions miniature faces from mixed-media casting and resin, a translucent material into which she incorporates both color and found objects. After sculpting the skeletal frames, the application of patinas in various hues saturates the facial features and foreheads. Her existing work consists of unsettling images reminiscent of terrifying film noir, but Burke’s unusual characters also display stark humanity. Not content to sculpt the god-like contours of ancient Greek and Roman archetypes, these faces exhibit confusion, suffering, delusion and perplexity—emotions reflecting the melancholy and mysterious psyche of man. The exhibition at the Erickson Gallery departs from Burke’s more diminutive scale, presenting life-size sculptures constructed from a cast of her own face (she said the casting process took four “horrible” hours). Burke transforms the resulting mold into intriguing male counterparts. The resin she uses creates luminosity from within the sculpture while the remaining opaque facial form may depict cut-away cheeks or chins, revealing yet another artistic element. Erickson, fascinated by Burke’s artwork, enthusiastically calls these sculptures “remarkable.”

“These heads seem lit from within,” Erickson says. “While some people find them frightening or scary, I always viewed them as guardians, silently watching over everything.” The “Evolutions” exhibit opens April 17. Burke will attend an artist’s reception on May 17 from 1 to 3 p.m.

Other faces—those of childhood—radiate youth in the one-day exhibit “Sunday Best” at Luckystar Studio. All 52 pieces by artist Bridget Griffith Evans feature portraits of Bridgetines: an army of young girls in pristine dresses.

The first piece harkens to 1346; specifically, to a religious order devoted to charity and founded by St. Bridget of Sweden. Griffith Evans alludes to this legend with her neatly mounted collection of “sisters” painted in demure palettes of white, rose and pink that symbolize the innocence, purity and honor extolled by St. Bridget. These children also recall Griffith Evans’ own two sisters, who grew up in the ’50s, a decade defined by black patent Mary Jane shoes, satin hair ribbons and matching dresses that still fascinate Griffith Evans.

Light Italian fare will be served during the April 6 exhibition, from 12 to 4 p.m., and a custom portrait by the artist will be presented to a lucky winner.


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