The Power of an Empty Canvas

On Feb. 2, the Narrative Art Exhibition opened in the Sacred Heart University’s Art & Design Gallery in the Edgerton Center for the Performing Arts. The exhibit, which is composed of 84 artworks by 26 international artists, highlights themes of gender, race, sexuality, folklore, religion, history, mythology, disability and politics.

Prof. Nathan Lewis, who is the chair of the Art & Design department and gallery director, is credited for assembling this exhibition. His idea stemmed from a desire to intersect a wide variety of themes to deliver the “Art of Story,” as well as revealing how all the international artists’ works resonate with the audience in different ways.

“This show is about story, meaning, artwork and how different artists engage with that whether they engage directly through telling a story like the graphic novelist Jon Allen,” said Lewis. “Others deal with more symbols and then we are projecting stories into them.”

Lewis has networked with many artists both to help conduct this art exhibit. It has reached an audience beyond the SHU community, since the artwork comes from all over the globe.

“I get to go meet these artists and bring their work back to the university so that other people can see that art is everywhere,” Lewis said. “The whole show has to do with the way people are working stories.”

Lewis depicted the way in which each artist resonated or identified with their own artwork.

“Jenny Dubnau’s painting called ‘Dictator,’ that is a close up of Trump’s mouth,” said Lewis. “In Margaret Roleke’s work, you can see she is working with gender studies, women issues, gun violence, looking at America as a culture that is patriotic, religious and loves guns.”

“Oliver Herring is a queer artist that has been doing drawings like male nudes. Part of his practice is learning about the person that is posing and making them a part of the process,” said Lewis. “When he agreed to be in this exhibition, he wanted the text there to tell the story of the person.”

There were many spectators at this art exhibition, including SHU art students.

“I saw a lot of the artworks have themes regarding social justice which was something I quickly picked up on when I first got here,” said freshman Erin Pellegrini. “The piece of the bullet casings on the back wall had a very cool and powerful message.”

Other students described specific characteristics of the artworks, along with common messages that can be found in them.

“The artwork seems to show a lot of humanity, who we were, who we are and what resources we work with now that have changed over time,” said sophomore Marissa Mele.

The exhibition will be open until March 10.

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