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Reading Meaning: Word and Symbol in the Art of Squeak Carnwath, Lesley Dill, Leslie Enders Lee, and Anne Siems

CLAREMONT, California - October 15, 2004

The Ruth Chandler Williamson Gallery at Scripps College is pleased to present the exhibition “Reading Meaning: Word and Symbol in the Art of Squeak Carnwath, Lesley Dill, Leslie Enders Lee, and Anne Siems.” The exhibition will be on view from October 30 through December 19, 2004. The artists exhibited will speak at the gallery on Saturday, October 30 from 4:00 to 5:30 p.m. An opening reception follows at 7-9 p.m. Both events are open to the public. For more information, please contact the Gallery at (909) 607-4690.

Visual and verbal imagery have long coexisted in modern and contemporary art. From Pablo Picasso’s paint and paper collages to Jenny Holzer’s electronic-diode sculptures, artists have seen words not only as text but also as visual elements. This exhibition examines the work of four contemporary artists – Squeak Carnwath, Lesley Dill, Leslie Enders Lee, and Anne Siems – who incorporate words and symbols in their artistic practice. The artists all create mysterious imagery, but each has a distinctly personal vocabulary.

Squeak Carnwath’s paintings of layered images create a parallel universe inhabited by talking rabbits and seated buddhas, and interspersed with enigmatic messages such as “Guilt Free Zone” or “Sincere Place.” Into her fabric and paper sculptures, Lesley Dill weaves poetic fragments by Emily Dickinson and isolated phrases by Franz Kafka. Leslie Enders Lee’s sculpture and works on paper evoke Sumerian cuneiform characters and the ancient role of the artist as “picture writer.” In Anne Siems’s paintings on paper, cursive phrases suggest a fictitious narrative emerging among images of women who seem both physical and ethereal.

Guest curator Margaret Mathews-Berenson writes, “The four artists also share an interest in obsessive, repetitive forms, text, and symbols; yet their work is sensual and spontaneous. Painterly gesture in the work of both Carnwath and Siems has echoes of abstract expressionism; Dill’s work bristles with emotion, both contained and effusive; and Lee’s spare iconic forms invite careful scrutiny or even a furtive touch. Finally, a distinct personal vocabulary emerges for each of these artists: words, written text, and symbolic notations offer subtle clues to each artist’s particular vision, enabling the viewer to decode the work to a certain extent, while simultaneously leaving the meaning open to interpretation. Timeless and poetic, the works seen here resonate differently for each viewer.”

A color-illustrated catalogue, produced by Perpetua Press and featuring an essay by guest curator Margaret Mathews-Berenson, accompanies this exhibition. For more information, please contact the Gallery at (909) 607-4690.

The Ruth Chandler Williamson Gallery is located in Claremont, California, at Eleventh Street and Columbia Avenue, adjacent to Baxter Hall. The Gallery is open to the public, free of charge, Wednesday through Sunday, from 1-5 p.m.