POUGHKEEPSIE, NY -- The exhibit "Conflict, Destruction, Renewal: Contemporary Artists on War" features four artists’ perspectives on war ranging from WWII to the recent Iraq War, and is part of an ongoing conversation between Vassar College and the United States Military Academy at West Point on the growing gap in the U.S. between the military and civilian society. The exhibit will be shown October 22-November 16 at the James W. Palmer Gallery in Main Building, and includes work by Benjamin Busch, Monica d. Church, Linda Cunningham, and Charles Geiger in various media.
The artists will discuss their work in a panel discussion on Thursday, October 25 from 5:00-6:30pm in Taylor Hall room 203. Immediately following they will attend an opening reception at the Palmer Gallery.
About the artists and their works
Benjamin Busch’s photographic prints were selected from two bodies of his work. The first is a series of one hundred images taken in Iraq between April and September 2003, while he was the commanding officer of a Marine Corps Light Armored Reconnaissance company during the U.S. invasion and initial occupation. The second series was taken February-September 2005 during his second Iraq combat tour, in and around Ar Ramadi, capital of the Al Anbar province. Busch tried to record Iraq at a pivotal moment between its dissolving past and uncertain future. “These images are moments that cannot occur again. What I photographed there has already been repainted, burned, or discarded,” he said. Busch graduated from Vassar in 1991 and served 16 years in the U.S. Marine Corps. He is best known for playing Officer Anthony Colicchio for three seasons on HBO’s The Wire, and he is the author of the widely-praised memoir Dust to Dust (Ecco/Harper Collins, 2012)
Monica d. Church created a series of collages while living in Hanoi, Vietnam in 1992, and she has transformed these individual works into an installation for the “Conflict, Destruction, Renewal” exhibit. The piece’s fragility is reminiscent of a society rebuilding and suffering from war, yet moving on despite material hardship. Church’s collages evolved from trash and paper she collected, which was often difficult to find in Hanoi due to the poverty of post-war Vietnam. She also bought joss paper, or ghost money, which Vietnamese burn to venerate ancestors. Found receipts, toilet paper, plastic bags, lottery tickets, pages from old Soviet books, and watercolors were also incorporated into her collages. Church received her MFA from the University of Kentucky and has exhibited throughout the U.S., Central America and Europe. She is a mixed media artist working in photography, painting and installation, and is the associate director of the Palmer Gallery.
Linda Cunningham is a New York City-based artist who exhibits extensively in New York and Germany, and she was recently one of the featured artists in the exhibition “This Side of Paradise” organized by No Longer Empty at the Andrew Freeman House. Layers of torn edges and severed forms distinguish Cunningham’s large format drawing/constructions and installations. She scavenges architectural and structural remnants, transforming found materials with layered significance, and incorporates contextual photo-based transferred imagery and fluid calligraphic drawing. She casts unpredictable, textured, sand-cast and bronze forms from military surplus scrap, and her work deals with metaphors for time and the transience of twenty-first century development. She is the recipient of grants from the Bronx Council on the Arts, Pa Council on the Arts, Fulbright Senior Research fellowship, Berlin, Arts International Kade Collaborative Works, and the John Anson Kittredge Foundation.
Charles Geiger’s work is a visual combination of botanical life and improvised imagery that often references current human and environmental stresses. Through the course of the Afghanistan and Iraq wars, the stress experienced by our combat soldiers gradually began to infiltrate his otherwise environmentally themed painting process. He began referencing news coverage of soldiers’ bodily and psychological wounds, especially their devastating organ and joint injuries. Combat alienation, paranoia, and fatigue have also figured significantly in his recent paintings. Within this botanic context, Geiger works in a somewhat shamanistic manner in the belief that painting has the magical ability to heal and recover. He applies leaves on the wounds of war as a kind of balm, in an effort to repair and recover what has been lost. Geiger studied studio art at East Carolina University and science at Millersville State University. His work has been shown widely in the U.S. and Germany. Some of his most recent work is currently on view at the Albany (NY) International Airport Gallery as part of the group show More or Less, and at the Imogen Holloway Gallery in Saugerties, NY.
About the Palmer Gallery
Situated between the North Atrium and the Retreat cafeteria, the James W. Palmer III Gallery is at the heart of the College Center addition to Vassar’s historic Main Building. Constructed in 1996, the gallery was named and endowed by the Palmer family in 2000 in memory of their son James, a member of the Vassar class of 1990. Serving as an exhibition space for artwork created within and beyond the Vassar community, the gallery displays art of diverse mediums, themes, and origins.
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Vassar College is a highly selective, coeducational, independent, residential, liberal arts college founded in 1861.