Joan Gaustad’s Paintings on Display at Mary Baldwin’s Hunt Gallery

January 28, 2002

The exhibition, The Cradle Still Rocks, a 15-year survey of paintings by Richmond artist Joan Gaustad, will be on view at Mary Baldwin University’s Hunt Gallery, February 4 – 28, 2002. The exhibition will open with a public reception for the artist on Monday, February 4, from 4:30 to 6:30 p.m. in the gallery.

The work focuses on images of babies and children, and spontaneous configurations of children’s and adult’s hands – the source often being early family photographs of the artist, as well as photographs of the artist’s three nieces. The title of the exhibition alludes to the first line of Russian-American novelist Vladimir Nabokov’s autobiography, Speak, Memory: “The cradle rocks about an abyss and common sense tells us that life is but a brief crack of light between two eternities of darkness.”

In the context of the tragedies of September 11, Gaustad states that her title, The Cradle Still Rocks, suggests that “now, more than ever, there is the awareness of the extraordinary vulnerability of life and the intensity of that light, even if we are not convinced, and I am not, of the ‘two eternities of darkness.’”

Supporting the artist’s poignant subject matter is a vital attribute of the paintings: a formal inventiveness that is driven by intuition, and often characterized by an obsessive, skillful, and evocative decorativeness. Gaustad’s artistic language is achieved through the use of different types of paint and supports, and her uncanny ability to establish a unified image within her employment of various painting techniques. Within the paintings there is an impressive range of surfaces: painted solid and broken lines; and, perhaps most engaging, a meticulous use of pattern, which resembles the small overlapping metal loops of mail.

Gaustad earned a B.F.A. from The School of the Arts at Virginia Commonwealth University in 1974. Since then she has shown in numerous solo and group exhibitions at venues such as 1708 Gallery, Richmond; Second Street Gallery, Charlottesville; Birke Art Gallery at Marshall University, Huntington, West Virginia; Lavori Su Carta, Bloom, Mezzago, Milan; Playhouse Gallery, Essex, England; and The Virginia Museum of Fine Arts, Richmond.

Hunt Gallery is dedicated to the exhibition of contemporary work in all media by regionally and nationally recognized artists. The gallery is open to the public Monday through Friday from 9 a.m. to 5 p.m. during the College’s academic year.

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