Middletown, CT - The Davison Art Center at Wesleyan University presents the exhibition "Oral Fixations: Drawings by Julia Randall." This ten-year survey exhibition features the meticulous hyperrealist drawings by Julia Randall, Assistant Professor of Art at Wesleyan University. From strange hybrid "Lovebirds" to disembodied mouths and monumental bubblegum, the subjects of Ms. Randall's drawings seduce the viewer. The opening reception will take place on Friday, March 28, 2014 from 5pm to 7pm, with a gallery talk by the artist at 5:30pm. Admission to the exhibition and opening reception are free.
The exhibition title "Oral Fixations" nods towards Sigmund Freud's theory of oral-stage fixation, but Ms. Randall's often monumental drawings transcend psychoanalysis. Desire, longing, and loss are embodied in surreal, sensual, even visceral images, which are simultaneously erotic and humorous, beautiful and grotesque.
The exhibition begins with selections from the series "Lick Line," drawings of disembodied mouths with arching tongues and fragile, quivering spit bubbles. With works from the series "Lovebirds," Ms. Randall combines human tongues and mouths with exotic birds to create fetishized hybrid figures of desire. Drawings from the "Decoys" series envision nature in the service of seduction and violence. Selections from "Lures" depict the mouth in motion, in speech and sexual signaling. The exhibition culminates with "Blown" and "Pinned and Pulled," two recent series of illusionistic drawings of chewed bubblegum in various stages of inflation and deflation. With a meticulous technique recalling scientific illustration, Ms. Randall presents the uncanny, abstracted forms of inflated gum, revealing traces of the absent mouth. Their physicality, viscosity, and wetness suggest bodily organs and an erotic corporeality. The fragile bubblegum membranes evoke the vulnerable human body and the inevitable passage of time.
Ms. Randall's fascination with the evanescent bubble has art-historical roots in the playful observation of the young boy in Jean Simeon Chardin's "Soap Bubbles," and in the precision of Dutch memento mori still-life paintings. Her monumental approach to mundane, banal chewing gum recalls Claes Oldenburg's immense sculptures of everyday objects. Bubblegum was previously linked to the corporeal in Hannah Wilke's "Starification Object Series," featuring fetishized, miniature vulvae crafted from gum. Over time, many women artists have shared Ms. Randall's fixation on the mouth and its primal powers: from Meret Oppenheim and her surrealist objects, to Janine Antoni's visceral photographs and sculptures, to Patty Chang's highly charged, discomforting videos and performances.
The exhibition is accompanied by a 48-page color catalog with an essay by Barbara Pollack, author of "The Wild, Wild East: An American Art Critic's Adventures in China" (2010), and a frequent contributor to ARTnews, Art in America, Vanity Fair, and other publications.
Julia Randall works in New York City and rural Connecticut. She is represented by Garvey|Simon Art Access, NYC, and has had solo shows there and at Real Art Ways, Hartford, Connecticut; Jeff Bailey Gallery, New York City; Esa Jaske Gallery, Sydney, Australia; and Middlesex County College, Edison, New Jersey. Group exhibitions include the Art on Paper Biennial, The Weatherspoon Art Museum, Greensboro, North Carolina; The 185th Invitational Exhibition of Contemporary American Art, The National Academy, New York City; and Twice Drawn, The Tang Museum, Saratoga Springs, New York. She is the recipient of numerous fellowships including an Artist Fellowship Grant, Connecticut Office of the Arts; the New York Foundation for the Arts; Skowhegan; Yaddo; and the Cite Internationale des Arts, Paris. Her work has been featured in The New York Times, Art on Paper, Flash Art, American Artist, New American Paintings, and Beautiful Decay.
This exhibition has been organized by the Davison Art Center, Wesleyan University, and will travel to the Handwerker Gallery, Ithaca College, Ithaca, New York.
Friday, March 28, 2014 from 5pm to 7pm Opening Reception Gallery talk by the artist at 5:30pm Davison Art Center FREE!
Wednesday, April 23, 2014 at 5pm "Mouth as Muse: Drawings by Julia Randall" Artist talk by Julia Randall CFA Hall FREE! Gallery hours at the Davison Art Center are Tuesday through Sunday, Noon to 4pm (closed Mondays).
The gallery is open to the public free of charge. The Davison Art Center is located at 301 High Street on the campus of Wesleyan University in Middletown, Connecticut. For further information, please call (860) 685-2500 or visit the Davison Art Center website at www.wesleyan.edu/dac.
The Davison Art Center was established at Wesleyan University with the founding gifts of George Willets Davison (B.A. Wesleyan 1892). Today it holds approximately 18,000 prints and 6,000 photographs in one of the foremost collections of prints and photographs at an American college or university.