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New art gallery director arrives, Marion Fellow prepares new book
Monday, August 25, 2014

The spotlight this fall in the College of Visual and Performing Arts shines on a new art gallery director and creation of a limited edition book by the 2014 Marion Fellow.

 
 Barbara Racker at "Rewritten by Machine" exhibition.

Barbara Räcker, a director or curator of seven art galleries across the United States — including two in Western New York — becomes the visionary force, leader and overseer of the Cathy and Jesse Marion Art Gallery. She previously served as a gallery director and permanent art collection curator at Indiana State University.

“What attracted us to her was the diversity of her experience in galleries across the country, including experience in the SUNY system and Western New York. She has both regional knowledge and national experience,” said College of Visual and Performing Arts Dean Ralph Blasting.

That diverse experience includes positions with the Clay Center for the Arts and Sciences, Charleston, W.Va.; Dowd Fine Arts Gallery at SUNY Cortland; F. Donald Kenney Museum at St. Bonaventure University; Cheney Cowles Museum, Spokane, Wash; Paris Gibson Square Museum of Art, Great Falls, Mont.; and Sangre de Cristo Arts and Conference Center, Pueblo, Colo.

The Marion gallery, located in Rockefeller Arts Center, hosts exhibitions by professional artists as well as Fredonia students and faculty; a graduating senior show concludes each semester.

“My vision for the Marion Art Gallery is to raise its visibility through major original exhibitions featuring regionally and internationally acclaimed artists; collaboration with Fredonia departments and organizations in the community and across the state, and (interdisciplinary) programs that engage various audiences,” Ms. Räcker explained. She would also like to expand marketing and publications.

Primary goals of academic galleries include striking a balance between student exhibitions, campus and community programming, and creating experiential learning opportunities for students, she explained.

Born in Germany and raised in New Orleans, Räcker has an M.F.A. and a B.F.A., both from Louisiana Tech University in studio art. She was attracted to Fredonia by advances in the College of Visual and Performing Arts, the Rockefeller renovation and expansion project, and the opportunity to return to Western New York.

 
 Marion Fellow Jason Dilworth.

Graphic Design Assistant Professor Jason Dilworth, recipient of the second Marion Fellowship for the Visual and Performing Arts, is creating, “Listening Before Talking: A Journey of 4,000 km Across the North American Interior.” Earlier artists, explorers and vagabonds of the American West were his inspiration for the book.

Dilworth’s project is rooted in “The American West,” Chautauqua Institution’s theme for its 2014 season’s fifth week. Marion fellowships are based on a Chautauqua theme week of the artist’s choice.

Dilworth spent parts of the summer walking, paddling and peddling to collect stories that convey the connections people have with the land. His journey spanned the Canadian Shield, crossed the Canadian prairie and meandered through several Great Plains states to reach the Missouri and Mississippi Rivers. New Orleans was the ultimate destination.

“The vast horizons and perceived monotony of the landscape are often seen as something to get through or fly over,” Mr. Dilworth explained. “My creative activity will hopefully change the way some people see the region. Through slow and methodical travel I will be able to listen to the voices of the region and find content worth saving.”

Detailed accounts of Dilworth’s travels, hardships and meditations will be the cornerstone of this limited edition book. Also included will be his reflections of separate visits to Chautauqua Institution; Alberta College of Art and Design, located in Calgary, Canada; the Ucross Foundation artist retreat in Clearmont, Wyo.; and Alley Theatre, in Houston. All are Marion Fellowship Circle Member locations and are supported by the philanthropy of Cathy, ’79, and Jesse Marion.

Descriptions of the Circle Member foundations and features on artists from each institution will also be included in the book. Copies, to be completed in March, will be sent to communities visited by Dilworth, who has an M.F.A. in graphic design from Virginia Commonwealth University and a B.F.A. in visual communication from Weber State University.

Photography Professor Liz Lee, the inaugural Marion Fellow, created “Cosmological Processes,” a body of photographic work inspired by the 2013 Chautauqua theme week, “Our Elegant Universe.”

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