The Eleanor D. Wilson Museum at Hollins University is presenting two new online artist exhibitions through April 25.
Eleanor Ray: 2021 Frances Niederer Artist-in-Residence showcases paintings by the New York-based Ray, who is creating work and teaching a seminar at Hollins this semester as part of the program that brings a nationally and internationally recognized artists to campus each spring. Many of Ray’s paintings offer glimpses of places known from the history of medieval to contemporary art, from the 14th and 15th century frescoes in Italy by Giotto and Fra Angelico, to Robert Smithson’s earth work in Utah’s Great Salt Lake, Donald Judd’s concrete and aluminum works in Texas, and Agnes Martin’s artist-built house and studio in New Mexico. Ray also paints pure landscapes, and in many of her works, there is a push/pull between architectural elements, strong shadows, warm light, and soft gradations of colors.
“I like the idea that the small painting is kind of monumental rather than miniature – that it can contain a bigger space, like the imaginative space of a book,” Ray said not only about the scale of her paintings, but also the idea of placing oneself in an immersive setting created by another either through the use of words, or as in Ray’s case, through carefully composed or framed visual components, and leaving it to the reader or viewer to imagine being there.
Ray received her undergraduate degree from Amherst College and completed her M.F.A. at the New York Studio School. Her numerous awards and residencies include the Ucross Foundation, Wyoming; Edward F. Albee Foundation, New York; the New York Foundation for the Arts Fellowship in Painting; and the American Academy of Arts and Letters Purchase Prize.
Elise Schweitzer: Painted Arches and Walled Gardens features a labyrinth of rich color and liminal spaces in a body of work that was created by the associate professor of art at Hollins during her recent sabbatical. Schweitzer is well-known for her large-scale figurative action-filled oil paintings, and Wilson Museum Director Jenine Culligan noted, “These small, beautiful, jewel-like gouache paintings are conceptional departures. One could describe them as cerebral exercises filled with experimentation, sometimes humor, and focused on the play of light, shapes, and color.”
On her shift in style, Schweitzer said, “When I am composing a figurative painting I am always thinking about the direction of the light, the relationship of colors, the balance of opaque to translucent areas in the painting…I think part of making this work was cutting through the need to have a realistic reference and instead just painting the thing that I had always been excited about, without the motif.”
A member of the Hollins faculty since 2013, Schweitzer teaches painting and drawing. She has shown her paintings in Chicago, Indianapolis, Cincinnati, and Philadelphia, and won numerous awards and grants. She has taught landscape painting classes in Italy and participated in an artist residency at the Vermont Studio Center. Her paintings are included in Manifest Gallery’s Painting Annual 1, 3, and 4.