Sunday, February 04, 2007

Virginia Maksymowicz Installation

The Stations of the Cross
an exhibit of fourteen sculptural reliefs
by Virginia Maksymowicz
will open on Ash Wednesday in the Narthex Gallery at Saint Peter's Church in Manhattan.


This recent work by Virginia Maksymowicz, who is usually known for her large mixed-media installations addressing political and social issues, might raise some eyebrows. In the year 2005, she completed a major commission for St. Thomas Episcopal Church in Lancaster, Pennsylvania for a set of Stations to be used during Lent. This unexpected invitation gave her the unprecedented opportunity to apply her own contemporary approach to a tradition that can be traced back to the 14th century.

Each Hydrocal FGR* panel measures 24" square and frames tightly cropped segments of bodies molded directly from life. For aesthetic and conceptual reasons, Maksymowicz felt it imperative to work with a variety of models, a total of eleven, culled from a wide range of ages and ethnicities. She wanted the narrative of Christ's passion and death to be represented in a way that is tensioned between the specific and the universal. The process of life casting captures nearly every detail of the body from which a mold is made, resulting in images that are highly specific to each individual. But the mixture of models and the anonymity implied by the fragmented figures push the imagery toward representation of the human community in a universal sense.

Moldmaking and casting also enable the artist to make multiple copies once the original forms are created. The reliefs in the Narthex Gallery represent a second set of casts from the molds used for the commission.

Borrowing from literary terminology, Maksymowicz employs the power of what might be called visual synecdoche. By using only a segment of the human figure, she seduces her audience into becoming active participants rather than passive viewers. With the part standing for the whole--narrative as well as visual terms--the possibilities for interpretation are extended.

In a review of the Stations in Sculpture magazine, Angela Melkisethian noted that in Maksymowicz's updating of Christian iconography, she draws from a long history of works interpreting Christ's journey to Calvary, from Jan van Eyck and Tiepolo to contemporary artists such as Robert Wilson and Damien Hirst.

Virginia Maksymowicz has shown at the Alternative Museum, the Franklin Furnace and the Grey Gallery in New York, as well as in college and univeristy galleries around the country. She is a past recipient of a National Endowment for the Arts Fellowship in sculpture, and most recently was a Visiting Artist at the American Academy in Rome. She is Associate Professor of Sculpture at Franklin & Marshall College.

*Hydrocal FGR is a kind of hardened plaster layered with sheets of Fiberglass.


Exhibition: The Stations of the Cross

Dates: February 21 to April 11, 2007; press previews begin February 14

Reception: Saturday, March 3, 4:00 - 6:00 pm

Hours: 9:00 am to 7:00 pm daily

Gallery: The Narthex Gallery at Saint Peter's Church

619 Lexington Avenue at 54th Street

New York, NY 10022

Contact: 212-935-2200

The artist can be contacted directly at 215-387-9706 or

Also Virginia will be presenting at the CAA:


Why Beat Pulp? Mapping Paper Terrains in 2006-07
Chaired by Helen Frederick, Pyramid Atlantic Art Center

Paper Dolls: Women Sculptors and the Body in Pulp
by Virginia Maksymowicz
She will discuss her work along with the work of Susan Grabel, Jeanne Jaffe, Valerie Otte and Pat Feeney-Murrell.

College Art Association, Thursday, February 16, 2007

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