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UTC Art Welcomes Michelle Segre


“Michelle Segre: Sculptures and Drawings”
February 4 – March 20, 2014
An exhibition supported by the Friends of the Cress Gallery

Diane Marek Visiting Artist’s Lecture
February 4, 5:30pm in the UTC Fine Arts Center, Room 335,
followed by an opening reception for the exhibition 6:30 to 7:30pm

Michelle Segre’s exhibition includes recently completed sculptures alongside conceptual sketches and earlier drawings providing a glimpse into the evolution of her highly personal approach to materials and process. After nearly two decades creating works that suggested biological forms both familiar to reality yet seductively strange, Segre’s current move towards a more gestural abstraction finds historical precedent in Surrealism and Arte Povera. Rendered with an extraordinary abandon to the richness of improvisation tempered by the formal rigor of composition and construction, Segre’s freestanding sculptural assemblages transform into the recycled spirits of a wildly eccentric universe existing just around the corner from ours.

This exhibition provides a coherent view of Segre’s artistic passage. One wall of the Cress holds a large arrangement of pages selected by the artist from her innumerable notebooks of collected visual thoughts and ideas. Comprised of the artist’s sketches, diagrams, notations, and photographs, or images lifted from printed matter and other found sources, the contents of these pages are not so much about process but operate more as a type of reference library, an image vocabulary carried into the studio.

The formal drawings in the exhibition dating from 2009-2010 are an extension of Segre’s drawing practice kept separate from her sculptural work. These brilliantly intricate and meditative works, executed in india ink and gouache on polypropylene, glow like portends and indeed seem prophetic for their relevance to Segre’s current course. It is the convergence of approach from one medium to another that is of interest when considering the direction her sculptural work has assumed. The result of this confluence has created significant recent comment and is, for an exhibition within an academic institution, innervating and provocative.

Segre’s sculptures occupy the center floor of the Cress. Two works “Let Me Love Your Brain” and “Transmissions from the Threadbare” note creation dates from 1997-2011. In each Segre has incorporated actual works from a previous body of hyper-realistic monumental sculptures. Standing stiffly erect like ancient statues of charioteers from Archaic Greece, these elements are in actuality carefully rendered replicas of chicken bones, friendly and familiar, yet eerily imposing in scale at a height of nearly six feet. Each bone is anthropomorphically set within a recently created nondescript tableau attended by new sculptures from a region of Segre’s galaxy of forms. This literal integration of artistic past with present is comfortable, confident, and joyfully sincere.

With the work of 2011-2013, Segre’s cohesive reference to organic form continues as sci-fi overrules science in a lively cast of works ranging from 28 inches to 12 feet high. Their visible armatures are not just skeletal but an important part of the compositional flesh while providing support to plaster, papier-mâché, wire, thread, and a range of ordinary materials. Surfaces are punctuated by splashes of intense color and the occasional recognizable object. These animate works sprout whacky transmission antennae or ramshackle receivers of delicate filaments reminiscent of thought bubbles, maps of the universe, or even diagrams of the nervous system. While the exhibition is silent, synaptic pops, musical tone, and vocal utterance, all feel palpably present. Like an alien band of fairies and elves, Segre’s playful, enchanted works appear possessive of inaudible secrets that continually keep us guessing; yet they eagerly engage and reach out for us, and within those gestures resides their beauty.

Artist’s Bio: Born in Israel, Michelle Segre currently resides in New York City. She received a BFA from the Cooper Union School of Art, NY, and studied abroad with the Tyler School of Art, Rome, Italy. Segre is the past recipient of the Louis Comfort Tiffany Award (2001) and the American Academy Arts and Letters Award (2011). Her work has been exhibited in group shows throughout the country at institutions such as the Otis College of Art, Los Angeles, CA., (2011), the Tang Teaching Museum and Art Gallery, Skidmore College, NY, (2006), and PS1 Contemporary Art Center, NYC, (2005). Recent solo exhibitions include Antecedents of the Astral Hamster, University Art Museum, University of Albany (2013), and Lost Songs of the Filament Derek Eller Gallery, NYC (2012). Her work is included in private and public collections including The Museum of Modern Art, NYC. Segre is represented by Derek Eller Gallery, NYC, and by Daniel Weinberg Gallery, Los Angeles, CA. She currently teaches at the School of Visual Arts, NYC, and LaGuardia Community College, CUNY.

Michelle Segre’s exhibition appears in the Cress Gallery courtesy of the artist and Derek Eller Gallery, NY, NY.

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UTC Fine Arts Center, Room 335
Department 1301
615 McCallie Avenue
Chattanooga, TN 37403

The University of Tennessee at Chattanooga

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