Villanova Art Gallery Hosts Multi-Media Exhibit by Four Philadelphia Women Artists by Peter Brakman

‘Visions Four’, an exhibit showcasing the diverse works of four Philadelphia artists, opens in the Villanova University Art Gallery on Friday, October 21. A free public reception to meet the artists – Elsa Johnson, Kristine Marx, Diane Pepe, and Karen Saler – will take place on October 21, from 5 to 7 pm in the Gallery in the Connelly Center. Students are always welcome.
The four artists’ visual arts repertoire encompasses painting, printmaking, drawing, sculpture, photography, and collage. Informed by the art traditions of several cultures, the well-traveled artists’ frequently honored works have been widely exhibited in the United States and around the world.
Pepe’s sculptural structures bear a strong Japanese influence, while almost all of Saler’s art is drawn from her abiding interest in Italian life and culture. Noted for her video installations and abstract drawings, Marx travels the world in the pursuit of her art. Johnson acknowledges the impact upon her sculpture of studio work in India.
For the exhibit, Elsa Johnson presents small-scale seascapes of the changing tides, and seasonal lighting and colors of Cape Cod. She also offers images of marionettes that she constructed, modeled, and photographed in beach, woodland, and marsh settings. She divides her time between Philadelphia and Cape Cod and is active in both art communities.
Where Johnson’s art is figurative, Kristine Marx’s metier is abstraction, which she carries out in watercolors, drawings, photography and video installations. Marx’s contribution to the exhibit includes abstract watercolors and ink drawings that offer illusion. Some drawings relate to her video work, others to an appreciation of the architectural sculpture of Hindu temples, while her small line prints reflect the artist’s interest in miniatures of India.
Diane Pepe’s vertical sculptures of wood and brass rods contain time- and water-worn stones, which sometimes overflow their structures. The artist’s three-dimensional constructions focus on “the dichotomy between emotion (the stones) and structure (the wood) that people bring forward to control these emotions.” The artist views her more recent two-dimensional cut paper constructions as “collages that investigate the concept of ‘conversations’ and spatial relationships.”
Karen Saler’s two years living at the American Academy in Rome while on a Rome Prize Fellowship changed her art and her life. “Living in Italy after graduate school made me aware of a differently textured environment that has altered my aesthetic sensibility,” she says.
With studio experience primarily in painting and drawing, Saler also explores digital media, sometimes using drawing and painting combined with inkjet prints to produce mixed media works. Her exhibited works include four computer-generated photo essay books; a cemetery book, ‘Requiem Aeternam’, about Italian cemeteries; ‘little Italy’; ‘Adoornamenti’, with photos of door ornaments of Venice and Prague; and ‘Morocco’.
‘Visions Four’ continues to Monday, December 5. The Art Gallery is open weekdays from 9 am well into most evenings. For extended and weekend hours, and other information, telephone the Art Gallery at (610) 519-4612. Selected works from the ‘Visions Four’ exhibit may be previewed at http://www.artgallery.villanova.edu.

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