JOYCE HARRIS MAYER IN THE VILLANOVA UNIVERSITY ART GALLERY
Music, Video Games, Movies, Television, and now visual art-we breathe in the media as a form of entertainment, but what else does it offer us other than thrills and laughter? Is there some sort of deeper intrinsic value to art than how it entertains the audience? As Neil Young once sang, “There’s more to the picture than meets the eye.” Villanova’s featured artist, Joyce Harris Mayer, believes that it is important for art to express some sort of message to the audience. The display features 43 of Mrs. Mayer’s abstract rondels, such as “Homage to the Birth of Art” and “Crescent Moon.” These rondels were created by digital technology, which is rather ironic in that they pay tribute to prehistoric artists who created the first known art forms using pigments, blood, and animal bones. Though we often write off abstract art as having no meaning, Mayer uses the abstract style in her Rondels to connect prehistoric art to modern art.
“When prehistoric art was created, we were able to communicate with future generations for the first time, which is what I believe is beautiful about this kind of art,” Meyer said.
In the 1970’s, art has suffered a sort of downfall, according to Mayer; due to “pop artists” such as Andy Warhol who created art for commercial purposes or without any particular message to convey to an audience-“I take art very seriously, and I’m disappointed that nowadays, it is being used only for entertainment rather than expression.”
Mayer began making art when she was 10 years old and started making money off of her art in her teens. Growing up in the post-depression era, her parents did not approve of her taking up a career as an artist, and insisted that she be a secretary, which was a more profitable job for a woman at the time. However, with the help of a few of her high school teachers, she managed to earn a scholarship to the Institute of Applied Arts and Science in Brooklyn and eventually became the first woman art director at that college. Here, she learned about the evolution of multiple artistic styles throughout history, and how to convey emotions and concepts visually.
“A lot of people say that art is something that anyone can just go ahead and do on the spot, but they’re wrong-it takes a strong knowledge of art history to create art that effectively expresses something.” One of Mayer’s works she is most proud of is her “Cave of Art”, a room-height series of oil paintings featured at the Mario Villa Art Gallery in New Orleans.
Mayer has been forced to change her artistic medium in the early 90’s due to lymphoma- her condition has made it difficult for her to do physical work and made solvents in paint toxic to her. Dedicated to her passion for art, she has turned to creating her works digitally, such as the set of Rondels currently on display in the gallery. The display can be viewed in the Villanova University Art Gallery in the Connelly Center until the 21st.
By Matt Belson ’16, Pictures by Kevin Grant ’14