Ashland University Coburn Gallery to Host Exhibition of Large Scale Oil Paintings

Ashland University Coburn Gallery to Host Exhibition of Large Scale Oil Paintings

9/10/12 ASHLAND, Ohio -- The Coburn Gallery at Ashland University will host an exhibition titled “Avatars,” which will feature large scale oil paintings created by North Carolina artist Virginia Derryberry. The exhibition will run from Sept.27 through Nov. 3, with an opening reception planned for Thursday, Sept. 27, from 4:30 to 6:30 p.m.

Derryberry’s oil on canvas figure paintings blend elements from mythology and alchemy, the forerunner of modern science, into dreamlike scenarios. Intended to suggest multiple interpretations rather than straightforward illustrations of specific narratives, Derryberry explores the idea of rebis, or the relationship between two contrasting variables. 

At first glance, the paintings seem to define a “real” space, but in fact, are constructed from multiple viewpoints and combine passages of volumetric rendering set next to patterned areas. This complexity is particularly evident in the paintings that are comprised of multiple canvases, such as “Memento Mori” and “Lauren Flying Solo.” In these, the viewer is forced to “fill in the gaps” between the figures and perhaps participate in the process of imagination. The result is a virtual, shifting world where nothing is quite what it seems.

Derryberry explained the meaning of the exhibition title, “Avatars.”

"In various religions, but specifically in Hinduism, an avatar is intended to be a manifestation of a deity in human form -- such as Vishnu. It can also refer to the use of an archetype of the writer’s or artist’s invention. More recently, the term 'avatar' has been used to refer to one’s alter ego in online gaming -- an endeavor that I used to think of as childish, a waste of time,” she said. “However, one day, as I sat in front of one of my canvases painting, I realized that I was creating a world that I could, and would want to, walk into. This invented scene was peopled with ‘characters’ that might as well be avatars of me. This profound revelation made me realize that I am as connected to the 21st century as I am to historical mythology -- yet another example of rebis.”

Derryberry is a professor of art and chair of the art department at University of North Carolina, Asheville. Derryberry’s work is shown regularly in exhibitions throughout the United States. Her paintings have been featured in an extensive list of publications, including an artist portfolio in “New American Paintings,” volume 82, 2009. Her awards include being chosen as a visiting artist at the American Academy in Rome (2010), two Individual artist grants from the state of Georgia, the Distinguished Teacher of the Year Award and the Feldman Professor Award for scholarship from the University of North Carolina at Asheville, a residency at Moulin a’ Nef, Auvillar, France through the Virginia Center for the Creative Arts, and the 2005 Annual Artist Fellowship from the Southeastern College Art Association. 

Her drawings and paintings are in the collections of the Carnegie Museum of Art, the Morris Museum of Art, the Museum of Contemporary Art of Georgia, the Bank of America Southeast Collection, the Tennessee State Museum and a site-specific installation of 16 paintings at the Hartsfield-Atlanta International Airport.

The gallery is open from 10 a.m. to 5 p.m. Monday through Friday and 12 noon to 4 p.m. on Saturday and Sunday and is free and open to the public. For more information about the reception or exhibition, call 419.289.5652 or visit us on Facebook.

Ashland University, ranked in the top 200 colleges and universities in U.S. News and World Report’s National Universities category for 2012, is a mid-sized, private university conveniently located a short distance from Akron, Cleveland and Columbus, Ohio. Ashland University ( values the individual student and offers a unique educational experience that combines the challenge of strong, applied academic programs with a faculty and staff who build nurturing relationships with their students.

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