University to present exhibition of artwork using blood exploring race, AIDS, and other issues

The College of the Arts at Kennesaw State University in metropolitan Atlanta will present a solo…

Georgia (Dec 14, 2007) — University to present exhibition of artwork using blood exploring race, AIDS, and other issues

Cheryl Anderson Brown

Abstract

KENNESAW‚ Ga. (Dec. 14‚ 2007) — The College of the Arts at Kennesaw State University in metropolitan Atlanta will present a solo exhibition‚ “Robert Sherer: Blood Works‚ Portraits of Love and Loss in the Age of AIDS”‚ Jan. 9 through March 11 in the Fine Arts Gallery on campus.

In the “Blood Works” series‚ Alabama−born Sherer uses blood as a medium to create pen−and−ink drawings. In most of the drawings‚ which have been collected worldwide‚ Sherer employs botanical images to convey messages about personal responsibility and relationships in the age of AIDS. Sherer began creating the works in 1998 after an accident with an X−acto knife in his studio left him with a large quantity of his own blood.

“I think any artist presented with a jar of blood would begin experimenting‚” Sherer says. He consulted chemists to develop a process to prevent the blood from coagulating and developed a canvas−preparation and finishing process to keep the color from turning too brown. Sherer uses his own blood and blood from volunteer donors.

Throughout all of this‚ Sherer continued thinking about what blood means to humanity. Initially‚ his thoughts focused almost entirely on the AIDS epidemic. “Because of HIV/AIDS‚ we started thinking about blood a lot more often. Even Robin Williams joked that we would need to ask for a blood sample before starting a new relationship‚” Sherer says.

In the ten years since he started Blood Works‚ however‚ Sherer has expanded the themes of the work. Initially‚ the drawings were of roses and flowers‚ then of human hands‚ then bugs and insects.

“We use blood imagery in our language all the time‚” Sherer says. “I've begun building a lexicon of blood — blood brothers‚ blood relative and so forth. The list keeps growing.”

Most recently‚ Sherer realized the strong tie between blood and racial identity and has begun creating Blood Works pieces that explore this idea‚ particularly as it relates to the history of his native South.

One new drawing‚ “Antebellum Classicism‚” uses blood drawn from African−American volunteers. The drawing is of a Corinthian−style column top‚ like those that might be found on the veranda of a plantation house‚ but instead of the usual acanthus leaves‚ this column features the seven crops that were produced in the slave−based economy of the antebellum South.

“I think it's important when we remember the beautiful Old South‚ that we also remember that it was literally built on the blood of slaves‚” Sherer says.

“Antebellum Classicism” is one of several new works that will be seen for the first time in this exhibition. Sherer has asked that these new drawings be sold to benefit a new scholarship fund for gay‚ lesbian‚ bisexual and transgender students at Kennesaw State‚ where he is an associate professor of art.

The other pieces in the exhibition have been loaned from collectors throughout the country and from as far away as India.

Works from the series previously have been exhibited in more than 20 shows‚ including at the Museum of Contemporary Art of Georgia; Garden Gallery in Provincetown‚ Mass.; Anthem Gallery in New York City; and at the 2002 Triennale International d'Art Contemporain in Paris‚ France.

In 2006‚ Sherer's Blood Works were recognized for their academic and scholarly value when he received the KSU College of the Arts Distinguished Scholarship Award‚ the Kennesaw State University Distinguished Scholarship Award and the KSU Foundation Prize for Distinguished Scholarship. These awards also have prompted the creation of a book about “Blood Works” which will be published by the KSU Press in Spring 2009.

Robert Sherer studied art at Walker College‚ Atlanta College of Art‚ Georgia State University and Rhode Island School of Design. He also holds a master of fine arts degree from Edinboro University in Pennsylvania. In addition to his work as an artist and educator‚ he has worked as an art critic‚ juror‚ lecturer and dealer. In addition to exhibiting at the 2002 Paris Triennale‚ he also represented the United States in the 2001 and 2007 International Biennale of Contemporary Art in Florence‚ Italy — where he earned fifth prize for mixed media. He is represented by the Robert Kidd Gallery in Detroit‚ New Arts Gallery in Litchfield‚ Conn.‚ and Lyman−Eyer Gallery in Provincetown‚ Mass.

“Robert Sherer: Blood Works” will open with a public reception‚ 5 p.m. to 8 p.m.‚ Wednesday‚ Jan. 9‚ 2008 in the Fine Arts Gallery of the Joe Mack Wilson Building. The exhibition continues through March 11. Gallery hours are 11 a.m. to 3 p.m. Monday through Thursday and 7 p.m. to 9 p.m. Wednesday and Thursday. The gallery is closed for all university holidays. There is no admission fee. For more information‚ contact the KSU Museum and Galleries office at 770−499−3223 or click the gallery link at www.kennesaw.edu/arts. (This link will open in a new window.)

For more information about the Robert Sherer GLBT Scholarship Fund‚ call 770−499−3214.

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A member of the 35−unit University System of Georgia‚ Kennesaw State University is a comprehensive‚ residential institution with a growing student population of more than 20‚000 from 132 countries. The third−largest university in Georgia‚ Kennesaw State offers more than 60 graduate and undergraduate degrees‚ including a new doctorate in education.

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A leader in innovative teaching and learning, Kennesaw State University offers more than 150 undergraduate, graduate and doctoral degrees to its approximately 38,000 students. With 13 colleges on two metro Atlanta campuses, Kennesaw State is a member of the University System of Georgia and the third-largest university in the state. The university’s vibrant campus culture, diverse population, strong global ties and entrepreneurial spirit draw students from throughout the region and from 92 countries across the globe. Kennesaw State is a Carnegie-designated doctoral research institution (R2), placing it among an elite group of only 6 percent of U.S. colleges and universities with an R1 or R2 status, and one of the 50 largest public institutions in the country. For more information, visit kennesaw.edu.

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