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University of Arkansas at Little Rock

UALR gallery director to lecture on Arts Center self-portrait exhibit

Brad Cushman, director and curator of the University of Arkansas at Little Rock art galleries, has curated an exhibit at the Arkansas Arts Center that features self-portraits from the collection of Jackye and Curtis Finch Jr.

Easter Island, 2011

The exhibit, “Face to Face,” features 118 works from the Finch collection. It opens Oct. 25 and runs through Feb. 9.

“Initially, the collection included drawings of all kinds of faces. As the collection developed, more of the faces depicted the artists themselves, turning the focus of the collection toward self-portraiture,” said Cushman.

As part of the exhibit, Cushman will deliver a free and public lecture, “Me, Myself, and I,” on Thursday, Nov. 7, at the Arkansas Arts Center. As curator, he will discuss his thoughts on the exhibition and provide insights looking at various artist’s portraits.

A reception will be held at 5:30 p.m., followed by Cushman’s lecture at 6 p.m. The galleries will remain open until 9 p.m. In addition, Cushman all will deliver a gallery talk about the exhibits on Jan. 24.

According to Cushman, individual works have been placed side by side throughout the exhibition as a way to interpret and celebrate the collection.

“Some pairings are based on composition and design similarities or compare medium choices or mark making. Others relate conceptual ideas or celebrate humor or simply acknowledge that sometimes opposites attract,” he said.

As a collector and an observer, Finch is a man of few words who embraces the idea that the works speak for themselves, said Cushman. Getting lost in the subject by searching for contour lines, shapes and forms, textures, patterns, and colors is part of the excitement of creating an image.

Creating figurative imagery requires hours of observation and the technical study of accurate human proportions and facial expressions.

“Time spent perfecting a craft and mastering a variety of media gives an artist the tools necessary to capture a model’s likeness,” Cushman said. “Artists working figuratively frequently turn to the most available model present in the studio.”

Sitting alone in the studio, the artist is surrounded by a mirror, sketches, and/or photographs, preoccupied with composition. The images look familiar; they are the artist’s own likeness. Over time this practice becomes second nature to the artist.

“Whether artists are drawing themselves by depicting the external physical world or an internal psychological world with photorealist or naturalistic techniques, or whether they are using an expressive style of mark making and abstraction to capture their likenesses, insight into the human condition can be revealed through their self-portraits,” he concluded.

This exhibition is organized by the Arkansas Arts Center and sponsored by Mr. and Mrs. Merritt Dyke and Metropolitan National Bank. For more information, go to Face to Face programming.

Photo caption: Ian Ingram, (American, Atlanta, Georgia, 1974 – ), Arkansas Arts Center Foundation Collection: Purchased with a gift from Jackye and Curtis Finch, Jr., in honor of Helen Porter and James T. Dyke.