Artists Shape Landscapes and Story Endings of Contemporary Life

Melissa Stern, from the "Loose Lips" series, 2004-05
Melissa Stern, from the “Loose Lips” series, 2004-05, collage, ink,
paint, pencil, charcoal, pastel, encaustic on paper, 8.5″x 11″. Image courtesy of the artist.

The Sella-Granata Art Gallery presents a dual exhibition featuring the work of sculptor, photographer, drawer and journalist Melissa Stern and 3D studio artist Matt Ziemke, October 6 through October 27, 2016. Everyone is invited to a reception Oct. 6 from 4 to 6 p.m. at the gallery located in Woods Hall. Wander across Woods Quad for a second Art Night reception in the Sarah Moody Gallery of Art in Garland Hall from 5-7 p.m.

With a background in anthropology, Stern’s work reflects both non-Western and outsider-art influences. Her drawings, collages, and figurative sculptures are richly drawn and deeply layered, with quirky, often dark humor. Comprised of thirteen short stories, told in small, mixed-medium drawings and few words, Melissa Stern’s Loose Lips, created in 2004-05, leads the viewer into a dark and funny world. The stories touch on family and other relationships. Poignant and wacky and often wicked, they are told in an uninhibited and exuberant combination of encaustic, collage, paint, charcoal, pastel and oil stick. For each story there is a choice of three endings. Viewers are asked to vote on the ending that they prefer. About her work, Stern says, “I work like a handyman cobbling together drawings and sculptures from elements found, borrowed and imagined. The drawings and sculptures, often made in tandem, resonate with one another, the ideas in one reinforcing the themes of the other.”

Stern is an artist and journalist living in New York City. Stern has worked in sculpture, photography and drawing for over twenty years, exhibiting throughout the US as well as Europe and Asia. Her work is featured in a number of prominent corporate and museum collections including News Corporation, JP Morgan, The Arkansas Art Center, the American Museum of Ceramic Art and the Kohler Corporation, where she was an artist-in-residence. Stern serves as a contributing writer for Hyperallergic, the Brooklyn-based digital arts publication, working at the intersection of the arts, culture, and politics. She has covered major exhibitions on assignment throughout the world. She served earlier as the principle art critic for The New York Press. She is a past Board Director of The Children’s Museum of the Arts in NYC, Watershed Center in Maine and curator of the Human Rights Film Festival from 2008-2015. Her website is here.

Matt Ziemke, "In Permanent Shadow," 2015
Matt Ziemke, “In Permanent Shadow,” 2015, glazed ceramic, enamel, aluminum leaf, 16″x 17.5″ x 7″. Image courtesy of the artist.

Matt Ziemke’s exhibition, What it was, what it is, and what it will be, explores the role landscapes play in contemporary American life and the development of cultural identity with large-scale wall tiles and sculpture. Ziemke writes, “Landscapes have influenced the development of cultural identities throughout history. What it was, what it is, and what it will be focuses on the various roles that landscapes play in American life today. In this exhibition a series of large-scale wall tiles and sculpture explore how perceptions of the natural world can occupy many roles including an idealized physical structure, political battleground, and cultural fetish.”

Ziemke received the MFA from Tyler School of Art, Temple University, Philadelphia and the BFA from the University of Colorado at Boulder. He was a resident artist at The Clay Studio of Philadelphia for two years following his graduate studies. Ziemke has taught at Tyler School of Art and Indiana University Southeast. He is currently a full-time lecturer at University of Nebraska at Kearney and exhibits nationally. His website is here.

Funding support for the Sella-Granata Art Gallery comes from the Department of Art and Art History and the College of Arts and Sciences. Admission to the gallery is free. Hours are Monday through Thursday 10:00 – 4:00 p.m. The gallery is located at 109 Woods Hall in the heart of the UA campus on Woods Quad. Information about visitor parking is available here: Parking is free on campus in a legal space after business hours. For more information, contact the gallery at (205) 348-1891 or go to the website.