Art of Surprise: Look and Occasionally Even Touch

| March 17, 2011
Cheryl Agulnick Hochberg will present a gallery talk at 4:30 p.m. Thursday, March 24 in Sweet Briar College’s Babcock Gallery during an opening reception for her art exhibition, which will be on display through May 8.

Hochberg, who chairs the fine arts department at Kutztown University, will address her role as both artist and department chair in addition to her involvement in the regional arts community. “The talk will set a context for the artwork and address the deep interrelationship between my artwork and other parts of my professional life,” says Hochberg, whose aim always is to engage viewers through a variety of surprising devices.

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The exhibition will include drawings, paintings and three-dimensional pieces, most depicting animals in ways that suggest human qualities such as vanity, self-consciousness or playfulness. The images refer to familiar human experiences that draw viewers in and encourages them to laugh at her humor, which is more “sly” than “uproariously funny,” she says.

“Some of my images are absurd or ironic, such as a cow with tattoos or a parachuting dog. It is always unclear whether the subjects know that they look a little ridiculous.”

Karol Lawson, director of the College’s art collection and galleries, says the rotating shows in Babcock Gallery focus on contemporary studio artists who have significant regional reputations. She looks for artists whose work has a synergy with Sweet Briar’s studio art classes and other curricula, such as the interdisciplinary fine arts program.

“Indeed, we have always relied on the studio art professors for advice on artists to invite to Babcock,” she said. “Hochberg’s work combines an almost photorealist style with surreal elements. I think the campus will find it provocative.”

Hochberg, who received her M.F.A. from the University of Wisconsin-Madison, also occasionally makes her work interactive. Examples in this show are wall-mounted boxes containing paintings that are revealed when the viewer pulls a string. They are part of a larger collaboration with furniture artist and sculptor Andrew Brehm.

“I understand the curatorial necessity of pristine exhibition spaces, but I have often thought that it is a shame not to be able to touch artwork,” she says in her artist statement.

Employing a broad range of materials and approaches, including in this show straightforward paintings on panel, cut-out drawings and metal leaf, Hochberg creates another layer of surprise through visual variety.

“Although I hold craftsmanship in very high regard in my work, I also enjoy including materials that are somehow ‘wrong’ (not art materials, not archival, not proper, etc.), and enjoy how that impropriety helps to challenge a viewer’s expectations of what art is, who it is for, and how we value it.”

Gallery hours are 9 a.m. to 5 p.m. Monday-Friday. Admission is free and open to the public. For more information, call (434) 381-6248 or e-mail klawson@sbc.edu.

Category: Art Galleries, Uncategorized