MEDIA EXHIBIT EXPLORES THE PHYSICAL AND THE SPIRITUAL
Through paintings, drawings, photography, and sculpture, four artists explore the theme of “Bodies and Spirits” at the Cantor Fitzgerald Gallery, Feb. 24-March 26. All of the artists featured in the exhibit are affiliated with Haverford; Gerald Cyrus, Deborah Masters, and Elizabeth Whalley are visiting assistant professors in the fine arts department, and Sarah Kaufman ’03 is the departmental assistant.
Gerald Cyrus’ pictures portray Harlem and its residents in the period just before the area’s economic resurgence. Cyrus, who lived in the Harlem community from 1991 to 1997, says, “When I first moved there, I was excited about the prospect of living in a place that had been home to many of the artists I admire. But it was also sobering to notice the decline the area had suffered since its heyday during the 1920s Harlem Renaissance. In recent years, Harlem has experienced a kind of rebirth, with major corporations opening up new stores and real-estate sales booming.”
Cyrus received his M.F.A. from New York City’s School of Visual Arts (SVA) in 1992. While at SVA, he interned at the Schomburg Center for Research in Black Culture and began work on “Kinship,” a project focusing on African-American family life. Throughout the 1990s, he also worked on projects documenting Harlem’s nightclubs and street life, New York’s subways, and black communities around the U.S. Cyrus was an artist-in-residence at Light Work in Syracuse, N.Y., in 1995, and in 1998 he was awarded an artist’s fellowship from the New York Foundation for the Arts. In 2002, he received a fellowship from the Sacatar Foundation to live and work in Bahia, Brazil, for eight weeks. Most recently, he was awarded a Pew Fellowship in the Arts for 2005. His work has been exhibited in the Aldrich Museum of Contemporary Art, the Bronx Museum of Art, the Brooklyn Museum of Art, the New Museum of Contemporary Art, the Smithsonian Anacostia Museum, and the Worcester Art Museum. His photographs are in the collections of the Philadelphia Museum of Art, the New Orleans Museum of Art, the Schomburg Center for Research in Black Culture, the Museum of the City of New York, and the Readers’ Digest Corporation. He has also been featured in two anthologies of black photographers: Reflections in Black by Deborah Willis, and Committed to the Image by Barbara Head Millstein. Cyrus is a member of the photographers’ collective Kamoinge, Inc., which published the book Sweet Breath of Life in 2004.
Sarah Kaufman’s directed photographs of nudes seek “balance and a manner of stillness,” she says. “I pursue this through attention to light and composition, which lends a formal beauty to the volumes of the human body.” Kaufman is interested in the skin’s surface, “the dark lines created when bodies touch and bend, and the mutability that can occur when two bodies become one composition.” Her work, she explains, is influenced by a regard for simplicity and quiet, sentiments shaped by her Quaker values.
Kaufman received her B.A. in fine arts with a concentration in photography from Haverford in 2003. As an undergraduate, she studied at the Lorenzo de Medici School of Art in Florence, Italy. Her work has been displayed by the Cantor Fitzgerald Gallery, Artforms Gallery in Manayunk, and the Washington School of Photography in Bethesda, Md. In 2001 she won first place in a Centennial Art Competition sponsored by the Germantown Historical Society. She is also a member of the Bolivian Quaker Education Fund.
“Spirits,” Deborah Masters’ hanging sculptures of varying heights, represent “ghosts,” clothed in diaphanous materials of white and off-white fabrics. “They are figures of power to me,” she says, “and stand as sentries. They are solemn spirits of past and present beings, each bearing a totem, which hangs from their necks as a weight.” The totems identify symbols which specifically relate to the person portrayed.
Masters graduated with a B.F.A. from Bryn Mawr College in 1974, and from the New York Studio School in 1979. She was awarded the “Best Public Art of 2001” award from the Municipal Arts Society in New York City for her contribution to Walking New York, a 350’ x 9’ relief in John F. Kennedy Airport’s Immigration Hall, Terminal 4. Recent shows include Brooklyn’s Smack Mellon Gallery, Sacred Matter, “Lost and Found Souls,” a 3,500-sq.-ft. installation of altars, and the Maurice Arlos Gallery, “Revelations,” a show of sculpture in New York, both in 2002. Masters also did a joint exhibition in the Grand Army Plaza Brooklyn Public Library as part of 2003’s “Crossing Brooklyn” with her student, Angel Mohammed. She has had 15 one-person shows in New York, at such venues as the LedisFlam Gallery and the Queens Museum Bulova Space. She has shown widely in the United States, Italy, and Canada, and has completed 20 commissions within the United States, including The Coney Island Murals, 1,600 sq. ft. of concrete reliefs for the Ocean Parkway Viaduct (MTA), which has not yet been installed. She has been part of group shows at Socrates Sculpture Park, The Sculpture Center, and The Whitney Museum at Phillip Morris. She is now working on a series of hanging sculptures, Spirits (of which her Haverford exhibit is a fragment), and an outdoor installation of a nine-inch concrete Chess Set.
Painter/printmaker Elizabeth Whalley’s large-format drawings were inspired by early Japanese poems. Part of an extended series, they are implemented with a variety of media including ink, charcoal, and watercolor. “The figure is the central motif of the series,” she says. “The drawings result from the intuitive association of the figure’s gesture and images from the text.”
After training in Montreal and at the New York Studio School, Whalley earned an M.F.A. in art and an Advanced Certificate in Performance and Interactive Media Arts from Brooklyn College. She has exhibited regularly in the Montreal area and in New York. She has used her paintings and drawings within collaborative, multimedia events at the Clemente Soto Velez Cultural Center in New York and at Galapagos Artspace in Brooklyn. She has been the recipient of a Canada Council Travel Grant and attended artist residencies in Montreal and Newfoundland. She has also executed numerous mural commissions in New York, Florida, and the Washington, D.C., area. She has taught at Brooklyn College and is currently teaching at both Pratt Institute in New York and Haverford College.
An opening reception for “Bodies and Spirits” will be held from 5-7 p.m. on Friday, Feb. 24, in the Gallery. In addition, the artists will give a Gallery Talk at 4:15 p.m. on Monday, Feb. 27.
Located in Whitehead Campus Center, the Cantor Fitzgerald Gallery is open from 11 a.m.-5 p.m. Monday-Friday and noon-5 p.m. Saturday and Sunday. During spring break, March 4-12, the Gallery will be open from 11 a.m.-5 p.m. March 6-8 and closed March 4-5 and 9-12. For more information, call (610) 896-1287 or visit www.cantorfitzgeraldgallery.org.
— Brenna McBride