ART VIEW by PAULETTE THENHAUS

Barbara Factor & Cheryl Meeker: Textiles and Ceramic Sculpture

 

Enter the Galesburg Civic Art Center in downtown Galesburg and feel an air of solemn stillness. Perhaps it’s the circle of tall figures which seem to repeat themselves at the gallery’s center, or maybe it is the formality of ceiling to floor textiles that line the walls. Whichever, one feels that serious thought has been given to these artworks.

Both the artists are college educators and involved in the world of art ideas and techniques. This is revealed in how each explores her own particular media in a distinctly individualized and exploratory manner.

Barbara Factor introduced the art community to her 8’ x 4’ screened textiles in a recent Galex exhibition. More of the sacred stone and water prints are in this show. But new works explore the man-made structures of Chicago architecture. Surprisingly, the work has the same mysterious presence as did the natural subject matter. Factor works with transparent, sometimes glistening fabrics, layered over layer, to achieve subtle depth and movement. She plays with opaque versus transparent. What is a solid building becomes an ephemeral floating shape right before our eyes, suggesting anything solid isn’t forever. Even in the formal precision that large-scale screen printing exacts, there is a flowing sensuous beauty to the feel of the materials that Factor successfully juxtaposes.

The eight female figures which circle the gallery in “Fall From Grace: Revisited,”  by Cheryl Meeker, are intended to be viewed as one piece. The sculpted ceramic figures are faceless and handless with an emphasis on breasts and wombs. They are elongated and twisted forms that are fully three dimensional. They vary only slightly from one another. Because the dyes selected for color are primarily dark and the clay is scratched repeatedly with small, sharp marks, the grouping takes on an ominous tone. Though this viewer is not sure what the “Fall from Grace” actually refers to or why eight similar figures are necessary, the story must be intriguing.

 

The exhibits are on view till November 12th at the Galesburg Civic Art Center, 114 E. Main Street in Galesburg. More info? (309)342-7415 or www.galesburgarts.org