‘Palimpsest’ showcases humor, historical references and student interests.
By Adriana Ruiz
Ray Cox, professor emeritus of drawing and painting at this college, returns with his latest work, “Palimpsest,” an exhibit he created over a span of 10 years featuring mixed media objects that have been re-contextualized and given new meaning, said art exhibit coordinator Susan Witta-Kemph.
The exhibit, which includes three- and two-dimensional artworks, examines concepts such as language, transformation and “the palimpsest metaphor,” according to the press release.
Palimpsest is an old document or writing surface where the original text is eradicated and covered with a new layer.
Cox uses this as a metaphor for his exhibit, meaning, “a multilayered record of change over time which shows evidence of that change,” according to the press release.
Witta-Kemph, who invited Cox to display on campus, said all students can relate to the exhibit because it references literature, history, science and sociology.
“Bits and pieces of each sculpture come from a variety of language systems,” Witta-Kemph said. “The more you understand, the more meaning it has.”
The exhibit features pieces that invite some intellectual detective work, and many of the titles use idioms to describe the art, Witta-Kemph said.
One of the pieces, titled “Greek Mythology,” is an action figure holding a ball painted to look like Earth and placed inside a clear jar with the word “Atlas” printed on it and nestled on top of a stone cylinder.
Witta-Kemph said it would make sense to people who know the story of Atlas and Greek mythology.
“It’s like a mystery or a code that needs to be deciphered,” she said.
Witta-Kemph said the exhibit also embodies Cox’s sense of humor. “Authentic Fakes” is an installation of various fake items – such as a doughnut, a burger, a piece of gum and a cigarette butt – placed inside a cupboard with a certificate of authentication next to it. “Salt and Paper” is a set of salt and pepper shakers inside a glass jar. The saltshaker is filled with salt, but the pepper shaker is filled with tiny pieces of paper with the word “pepper” printed on it.
Witta-Kemph said all of the pieces are interesting, but one of her favorites is “India Ink,” a framed map of Europe and Asia with India completely blacked out in ink and a glass vial with Scrabble letters spelling out “India Ink.”
She said many different types of students, not just art students, can relate to the exhibit because it touches on a variety of interests.
“I think his work reaches so many different types of students and interests,” Witta-Kemph said.
Cox taught at this campus for 31 years and retired 10 years ago. Wittah-Kemph said Cox now spends his time working on his art.
There will be an opening reception 6 p.m.- 8 p.m. Oct. 9 in the visual arts center gallery.
The exhibit is open to the public 8 a.m.- 7 p.m. Monday-Thursday and 8 a.m.- 5p.m. Friday. It is closed Saturday and Sunday. The exhibit will be on display until the end of the semester.
For more information, call Witta-Kemph at 210-486-1044.