Paintings at SJU Gallery Deconstruct Disasters

Tuesday, June 4, 2013

PHILADELPHIA (June 4, 2013) - “Rumble,” the summer exhibit at Saint Joseph’s University Gallery, will feature Melissa Wilkinson’s meditative paintings in black, white and gray that deconstruct the effect of natural and man-made disasters on homes, businesses and communities. The collection of 12 India ink paintings on paper will be on display Monday, June 17 through Friday, Aug. 2.

“The creation of these paintings came out of anxiety,” says Wilkinson. “After Hurricane Katrina, with a tumultuous political system in place and ever-increasing concerns about the global economy, I started to create digital collages incorporating structures familiar to us in the West. Painting them seemed a slow meditation in which I could create beauty while separating my fears from reality.”

Wilkinson creates her work from found photographs of devastated structures that she first manipulates digitally. She then draws or paints the images of destruction and mayhem, choosing “moments of reprieve; quiet moments following a climax, where one can assess the physical and emotional damage created by cataclysmic events,” Wilkinson says.

Situating the paintings “somewhere in between abstraction and representation,” Wilkinson says her work supports traditional notions of the “sublime landscape” that is uncontrollably vast and frightening, within a contemporary context of anxiety and fear. “I’m interested in navigating the viewer through a moment of both dread and wonder,” she adds.

“Wilkinson deconstructs, then reassembles images to create hauntingly beautiful paintings,” says Associate Gallery Director Jeanne Bracy. “This series is especially appropriate now, when we have been plagued by so many natural disasters. The unframed exhibit hung by bullclips counterbalances any idea of it being refined. Viewers are urged to look beyond the fine lines to feel the anxious emotion present in each piece.”

An assistant professor of art (painting) at Arkansas State University in Jonesboro, Wilkinson received an M.F.A. in painting from Southern Illinois University in Carbondale. The recipient of numerous awards and fellowships, she has exhibited nationally and internationally, and her work is held in both public and private collections.

Saint Joseph’s University Gallery is located in Merion Hall on the James J. Maguire ’58 Campus at 355 N. Latches Lane in Merion Station, Pa. A campus map may be viewed online. Gallery hours are Monday through Friday, 9 a.m.-7 p.m., and Saturday, 10 a.m.-1 p.m. For more information, call 610-660-1840 or visit the gallery website at

Media Contact

Patricia Allen, Senior Associate Director of University Communications, 610-660-3240,


Founded in 1851 in the Jesuit tradition of academic excellence, Saint Joseph’s University is a top-ranked Catholic University that provides a rigorous, student-centered education. With a total enrollment of 8,500 undergraduate and graduate students, SJU offers a wide-array of academic programs designed so that each graduate enters the world with a competitive resume and global perspective. This is achieved through intense academic study led by thought-leading faculty scholars, a comprehensive campus experience and robust study abroad, service-learning, internship and co-op programs. Upon graduation, nearly 100 percent of students are employed, pursuing advanced degrees or volunteering in prestigious service programs. A member of the Atlantic 10 Conference, SJU offers 20 Division I intercollegiate men’s and women’s sports. SJU alumni – over 60,000 strong - provide a powerful network that spans the globe.

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