Based on geometrical abstraction and color field painting, my work is influenced by the urban landscapes and technology, that we experience in our every day life.
Industrial landscapes, such as radio antennas, airports, construction sites as well as computer architecture, evole landscape gestures. They transform into line, color and form. I am interested in the subject matter as the basis on which to construct the paintings and drawings.
I am trying to create a situation whereby pictorial events are recognizable and meaningful and at the same time can be seen as pure abstractions.
- Torben Giehler 1999
Barbara Stern Shapiro Curator for Special Projects, MFA
The 1999 “Traveling Scholars” exhibition featured in the Foster Gallery at the MFA celebrates the one hundredth anniversary of the scholarship awards. Included are six graduates of the 1999 Fifth Year Program at the Museum School and three alumni. All were chosen by a panel of art professionals who kindly lent their expertise to evaluate the artistic credentials of each participant.
Ruth Fields and Torben Giehler adhere to the historical code of wall paintings—Fields with a series of bold tar-and-oil-paint brushstrokes on canvas and on Mylar, and Giehler with various industrial landscapes in large, geometric abstractions. Loretta Harms and Robert Todd, both alumni of the School, use film to give voice to their views of history and life: Harms with 35-mm films, and Todd with documentary screenings. Pablo Gonzalez transforms the Stations of the Cross from religious icons into a personal journey using suspended vinyl umbrellas that are painted and manipulated; they are reinforced as stations by floor-based, padded stools. Emily Kahn and Kibi Schultz have created large installations of rooms that allow viewers to participate in a life experience and to use their imaginations to place the multitude of photographs, pieces of furniture, and video into a personal recollection. Christine Tobin employs video images and lively caricatural drawings that are based on sideshow circus banners and advertisements. Constance Feydy produces three-dimensional pieces of furniture that she refers to as “structures”; they are functional to a certain degree yet also impractical, creating unease and a degree of parody.
This year, the exhibition challenges the viewer to embrace many media and propositions—some are quite large video installations—within a light and airy but relatively restricted space. It is hoped that the audience will experience the overall creative relationships enjoyed by these friends and colleagues yet also appreciate the powerful individuality of these nine actively engaged artists.
On behalf of myself and Susan Wong, head designer, who prepared an exceptional plan for the installation, | would like to thank Leila Amalfitano, who brought the 1999 Traveling Scholars to this point in their artistic careers. We appreciate the support and information that we received from the Scholars and are grateful for our studio visits and many conversations concerning their work. It is our pleasure to bring together the staffs of both the SMFA and the MFA to ensure that this special exhibition in 1999 represents handsomely the achievements of these accomplished artists.