Experiments at DVAC worthy of investigation

3-person exhibit takes scientific angle

Regular visitors to the Dayton Visual Arts Center will be surprised upon walking in the gallery over the next few weeks.

A movable wall has been relocated close to the Jefferson Street window of the site for the first time in six years. They are doing an experiment, you see. Francis Schanberger, one of the artists in this current group show, needs the sunlight to fall upon one of his prints, “Ash Seed Coat.”

According to his artist statement, the antho-type process is a green photographic technique that utilizes the power of light to etch an image on material coated with plant pigments, like berries, flower petals and beet roots. It is considered a fugitive photographic process, since the image is created by the fading power of light.

The print on the front wall is an example of the process taking place in real time. He’s also showing two finished experiments, a rose-hued “Pokeweed Pokeberry Coat” and a blue “Maple Seed Coat” in the exhibit, in addition to 56 other prints.

The other artists in this exhibit, called “In Vivo,” are Diane Stemper and Erin Holscher Almazan. The show was curated by Bridgette Bogle, a local artist, art instructor and current director of Dayton Society of Painters and Sculptors.

“The small silken threads incorporated in Schanberger’s prints, the intimate scale of Stemper’s artist books and the delicate mark-making in Holscher Almazan’s drawings call the viewer to investigate more closely,” said Bogle. “So the investigative act of the artist or scientist mirrors the viewer’s examinations of these detailed and thoughtful works.”

Schanberger is an artist-in-residence at the University of Dayton and has received grants and fellowships from the Ohio Arts council and the Montgomery County Arts Council.

He has a bachelor’s degree in science from the University of California, and a master of fine arts from Ohio State University.

Stemper’s work

As we move from the lab coat to the petri dish, we have Stemper’s investigation of the interplay between nature, humanity and biology. These analyses are communicated in accordion book form, drawings of maps, and a collection of pen and ink drawings. Her most fascinating works are those critiquing Darwin. She’s showing three of “Darwin’s Darlings,” regarding the beetle, finch, and tortoise. Three are “Darwin’s Doldrums,” known as “Plastic Soup,” “Site Unseen,” and “Specific Variation.”

These rounded, 4-inch-by-4-inch colorful texts illustrate Darwin’s theories and can be folded into the small petri dishes included in the display.

Stemper has a degree in fine art from San Francisco Art Institute, and an MFA from San Francisco State. She serves on the board of the Cincinnati Book Arts Society and lives in Oxford with her family. She is the recipient of two Ohio Arts Council’s Artists and Communities grants. Her artist books are incorporated in museum and private collections across the country.

Almazan

And finally, from the petri dish to the womb. Almazan, who recently gave birth, asks the viewer to consider the human body as worthy of study. She’s showing dozens of prints, nine of which mimic a woman’s pregnant body in various stages of being. These 7.25-inch-by-5-inch solarplates on botany book paper are being displayed as a grid.

Almazan is also exhibiting her “Tethers” series. These graphite drawings honor her friends, who are, in one form or another, in the maternal way. In these, “she incorporates internal aspects of pregnancy and motherhood, like milk ducts, into each portrait.”

Almazan, a North Dakota native, is an associate professor of printmaking and drawing at U.D. She has a bachelor of fine art from Minnesota State University, and a fine arts master’s degree from the Rochester Institute of Technology. Her works have been shown on both a national and international scale. She lives in Dayton with her husband and two sons.

“This group exhibit came as a result of one of our biennial Calls for Entry. Every two years we ask artists from all over the country to submit exhibition ideas,” said DVAC executive director Eva Buttacavoli. “I think it’s one of the most beautiful shows we’ve ever done.”

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