Familiarity Breeds Ambiguity: 'Allegation of Use' at SJU Gallery

Ephraim Russell’s 3-D configurations, puzzle, amuse

Monday, October 27, 2008

PHILADELPHIA (October 24, 2008) – The work of 3-D artist Ephraim Russell is featured in the next exhibit at Saint Joseph’s University’s Gallery. Titled “Allegation of Use,” the show runs from Nov. 10 to Dec. 12. An artist’s reception will be held on Friday, Nov. 14, from 6-8 p.m.

Russell’s work serves a purposefully paradoxical aesthetic – his pieces look useful and familiar, but in fact perform no real function. Objects resemble anything from blenders to house alarm systems, and appear to come from both the past and the future – a conundrum that Russell acknowledges is one of the aims of his work.

“I am interested in objects that are highly specialized to do nothing and are designed to maintain a vague recognizability – keeping things familiar but always ambiguous,” said Russell.

“Russell's sculptures are unique because of the materials he uses and the subject matter,” said Jeanne Bracy, associate gallery director. “He has viewers wondering, 'Where have I seen that before? What is it?'”

The exhibit will present a number of Russell’s pieces, including Patent Pending, a sculpture made from 800 laser-cut and slotted corrugated cardboard discs that fit together in an infinite number of ways, which the artist will construct in the gallery to snake up from the first to the second floor.

“Inexpensive, temporary, recycled materials define the tenor of [Patent Pending], diminishing notions of material value and virtue in favor of invention, experimentation and play,” said Russell.

“Allegation of Use” will also feature several computer-aided design prints and two Interferer sound sculptures – audio-jamming devices that prohibit sound recordings in the vicinity of the sculptures in an attempt to make it easier to concentrate on the other artwork on view.

Bracy acknowledges the educational value in viewing Russell’s work for art students at the University and in the region.

“This exhibit will encourage students to think outside the box when it comes to creating their own sculptures,” she said. “It is a great example of looking at one’s everyday surroundings for building materials - plastics, Formica, cardboard, etc.”

“Russell's art allows the viewer to see beauty in the shapes and forms of the industrial objects found in their homes,” said Bracy.

An assistant professor in the art and art history department at Drexel University, Russell’s work has been shown nationally, and extensively in Seattle, Wash., and Richmond, Va. He also served as director of the Foster White Gallery in Seattle, and in a directorial position at the Leonard Pearlstein Gallery in Philadelphia. Russell received his M.F. A. in sculpture from the Tyler School of Art in Philadelphia.

The Saint Joseph's University Gallery is located in Boland Hall on Lapsley Lane, off of City Avenue between 54th Street & Cardinal Avenue in Lower Merion. Hours are Monday through Friday, from 10 a.m. to 4 p.m. For more information call 610-660-1840, or visit www.sju.edu/gallery.

Media Contact

Patricia Allen, Associate Director of University Communications, 610-660-3240, patricia.allen@sju.edu

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