Arts & Entertainment

SVA attends gallery talk downtown to hear from artists Steven Finke and Ana England

By: Katherine Colborn

Xavier’s Society for Visual Arts enjoyed its first official event of the semester—a trip to the Weston Art Gallery downtown. Last Thursday, a group of 11 students and two professors from the art department attended a gallery talk with two of the Weston’s currently featured artists: Steven Finke and Ana England.

A husband and wife from Clermont County, both Finke and England are art professors at Northern Kentucky University and work with a wide variety of media.

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Their current joint show, “Imminence,” was titled and created after reflecting upon the last joint show they held at the Weston in 1997, titled “Creation Stories.” As the name indicates, that show, “Creation Stories,” featured work inspired by the “beginning of all things,” England said.

“Steven’s work was inspired by the stories of Genesis, while mine dealt with more of the scientific aspects and theories about the beginning of the world,” England said.

The new show, “Imminence,” focuses on the reversal of those ideas: death and impermanence. It features nearly 20 sculpture-like installations by Finke, 10 works by England in various media and one piece that both artists worked on collaboratively.

The inspiration came from a place of reflection after “Creation Stories,” but the nature of grief also became a vital part of the work for England, whose mother died as she was beginning to create work for the show.

Perhaps one of her most striking pieces is “Elegy,” a series of black, red and white felted wool sheets layered and hung on the wall with thorn-like bronze pins. The progression of these hanging felts was evocative; viewed from left to right, the separate sheets of felted wool become more and more torn, leaving more gaps to view the other layers of felt beneath it.

England poignantly described this piece as resembling the “physical deterioration (of a dying person) and freeing of the spirit.” The piece also serves to symbolize the nature of grief. The thorn-like pins might also represent places of pain necessary to examine grief and allow for its slow release.

She explored a similar theme in her piece “Witness,” a life-size statue coated in ceramic dust and penetrated by several long and sharp bronze needles. Finke discussed his use of materials in a similar way, stating that he believes metals are elements of the earth, manipulated by other natural elements, namely heat and pressure.

His interactive works are especially provocative and even strangely delightful. Some of his more fascinating pieces utilized the bones of animals he found deteriorating on his property in Felicity, Ohio.

His multiple Buddha figures, which Finke referred to as “peaceful and wrathful deities,” were especially fascinating and created from a variety of mediums, down to every individual pedestal created for each Buddha.

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Students and faculty alike were delighted with the experience to both see the work presented in the gallery and have a chance to hear from and talk to the artists. The Weston Art Gallery will be showing the “Imminence” exhibition until Dec. 1 of this year.