Review: A Closer Look

By Shaw, Kurt | Tribune-Review/Pittsburgh Tribune-Review, December 6, 2007 | Go to article overview

Review: A Closer Look


Shaw, Kurt, Tribune-Review/Pittsburgh Tribune-Review


Carnegie Mellon University's Regina Gouger Miller Gallery is featuring solo exhibits of work by three women artists at the top of their game.

One is a photo installation by Patricia Maurides, another is a series of wall-hung sculptures by Michelle Stitzlein, and the third is a suite of paintings by Julie Stunden.

Maurides' works are on the first of three floors that the exhibits cover. Through an installation made up of photos, projected images and recorded sounds, the artist, who also happens to be an adjunct assistant professor in Carnegie Mellon's school of art, explores her familial past.

In the spring, she visited Arahova, a mountain village in southern Greece not far from Sparta. That's where her father was born and where she recorded imagery and sounds in three locations: her grandfather's house, a small grove of plane trees believed to be more than 2,000 years old, and alongside the Evrota River.

In the gallery, she has arranged high-gloss photographs of all three places along the walls at eye level. Among them is a progressive series in which she interviews one of the massive plane trees.

Maurides has a mild genetic hearing loss, which she addresses by attempting to "listen" into her family's past, such as through interviewing the tree while holding a microphone. But in the process, the tree manages to swallow her almost entirely, leaving her legs dangling.

It's nearly all quite real, as the artist has managed to find the perfect tree for the job, one with a massive opening at its base, big enough to crawl into. It's a lighthearted analogy that is both tender and sensitive, managing to pay homage to the history of a place while yearning to explore it at the same time.

On the second floor, Stitzlein has set up a stunning display of larger-than-life moth sculptures made from trash. Having wingspans ranging from four to 11 feet, the 10 massive wall-mounted works were inspired by caterpillars transforming into butterflies. That is to say, the Columbus-based artist searched for the beautiful in the mundane, ultimately making magnificent winged creatures out of everything from bottle caps to bicycle tires.

Even more remarkable, each is based on a specific moth species, such as the Timely Emerald Hackberry or the Nocturnal Indigo Gum Snout. …

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