Julianne Swartz and her orbs of light

Julianne Swartz

Twice a year since 1999, SUNY-Ulster has brought a visual artist of renown to the Stone Ridge campus as part of its Visiting Artist program, designed to introduce a significant artist to the college and community through an exhibition of his or her work and a special presentation by the artist. This Friday, October 12, cross-disciplinary artist Julianne Swartz will give a slideshow presentation on her work at 7 p.m. in the college lounge at Vanderlyn Hall, followed by an opening reception for an exhibition of her photography and sculpture in the university’s Muroff-Kotler Visual Arts Gallery. The show will remain on view through November 9.

The exhibit, which gallery coordinator Suzy Jeffers describes as “elegant and mysterious,” features sculptural works from Gravity, a recent (2012) series by Swartz, and photographs from three different series dating from 2005 to 2010. The photographs in Bubble Portraits depict images of a fragile bubble floating against a backdrop of sky or lodged on the surface of water, while the imagery in the Close series is of a fingertip seen at close range, barely holding onto a drop of water containing a surprising reflection.

The images seem strong and fragile at the same time, like a delicate balancing act between control and surrender. Placement (Moon Ocean), from the third series represented, depicts a hand seen in silhouette against an ocean horizon, holding a glass orb that mimics the placement of the Moon in the sky in a way that is not only starkly beautiful but also provokes thought about our relationship to the universe. If you can’t make it to the show at SUNY-Ulster, at least check out the imagery at www.mixedgreens.com/artist/julianne-swartz-28/press.html.

If you’ve ever visited Manhattan’s High Line Park, built on an old elevated freight rail line high above the streets of the lower West Side, then you’re already familiar with Swartz’s work from Digital Empathy, a commissioned sound installation piece in which computer-generated voices greet visitors to the park with pragmatic or soothing messages of encouragement and support (and sometimes whimsical absurdity). Transmitted through the park’s bathroom sinks, water fountains and elevators, the voices create an experience that catches the visitor off-guard, challenging expectations for what is normally found in those intimate environments within public spaces. The installation is representative of much of Swartz’s work, in which she creates immersive environments that use sound in a spatial way to explore feelings and sentiments in a fine art context.

A resident of Marbletown, Swartz holds an MFA in Sculpture from Bard College and is the recipient of numerous awards and honors. She has shown in such prestigious venues as the Whitney Museum of American Art and the Museum of Modern Art’s PS 1 Museum, and created a commissioned installation for the deCordova Museum and Sculpture Park in Lincoln, Massachusetts.

SUNY-Ulster is located at 491 Cottekill Road in Stone Ridge. The Muroff-Kotler Visual Arts Gallery on campus is open Monday through Friday from 11 a.m. to 3 p.m. or by appointment, and is closed on college holidays. The slide presentation and exhibit are free and open to the public. For more information, call (845) 687-5113 or visit www.sunyulster.edu/campus_and_culture/arts/artists/julianne_swartz.php.

A slide presentation with reception following afterward opens an exhibit of work by artist Julianne Swartz at the Stone Ridge campus of SUNY-Ulster at 491 Cottekill Road on Friday, October 12 at 7 p.m. The exhibit remains on view through November 9. The Muroff-Kotler Visual Arts Gallery is open Monday through Friday from 11 a.m. to 3 p.m. or by appointment, and closed on college holidays. The slide presentation and exhibit are free and open to the public. For more information, call (845) 687-5113 or visit www.sunyulster.edu/campus_and_culture/arts/artists/julianne_swartz.php.

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