The works of , Nikki Westra: Collage, will be exhibited at an artist’s reception October 22 at the Temple Gallery. Her work features intricate collages using images appropriated from anatomical texts, published between the late 19th and mid 20th century.
The artist was inspired by meeting the renowned photographer Frederick Sommer. Westra cuts up beautifully colored anatomical drawings and then rearranges the delicately veined organs and tissue in new relationships to make her collages. She literally transforms the machinery of the human body reorganizing tissue and bone to make something new.
For example in Valor, Westra strategically juxtaposes unrelated parts of the body, bringing to life a fantastic new being that resembles a back-to-the-future Roman warrior. By moving pelvis, spinal cord and bony fingers to the surface, she constructs an exoskeleton helmet that protects the figure’s head and the green tracery beneath the skin. The accolades symbolized by the medal of valor, seem like meaningless praise to Westra’s inconsolable figure.
This theme is also evident in Game Face, in which Westra reverses the position of tissue and bone to form a helmet, and here presents half a rib cage as a shield or perhaps a cape and transforms pieces of bone into an axe. Like Prometheus, who defied the laws of nature and created man, Westra’s transformation of the human body into new, unimagined beings, defies the laws of human anatomy. The effect is eerily beautiful and fascinating, drawing us in to look closely at the work and ultimately, at ourselves.
Nikki Westra returned to the practice of art after a distinguished legal career. Always an avid amateur photographer, early on she became interested in composition and balance. While living in Prescott, Arizona, during the 1990s, she made the acquaintance of photographer, Frederick Sommer whose philosophy of art and life had a profound influence on her work. Westra likes to think that Sommer, who also experimented with collage, would approve of the structure and source material of her collages.
Nikki Westra: Collages will be available for viewing and purchase until November 23, 2010. The Temple Gallery will host an artist reception on Friday, October 22, 5:30-7:30 pm.
LOCATION: The Temple Gallery is located in SoCo (South of Congress) at the Temple of Music and Art, 330 S. Scott Ave in downtown Tucson.
HOURS: Open Monday – Friday, 10am to 5pm and prior to Arizona Theatre Company performances on Saturday and Sunday.
For information about the exhibition, contact Etherton Gallery, which manages the Temple Gallery at (520) 624-7370 or email@example.com. To confirm gallery hours, please call the Temple of Music and Art at (520) 807-8029.