Through July 15: 'Bodyscapes' on view at Mechanical Hall Gallery
David. C. Driskell, Masked Man, 1973. Mixed media collage on paper, 8- by 5-1/4 inches, Paul R. Jones Collection, University Museums. Copyright David C. Driskell


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1:14 p.m., Feb. 14, 2011----“Bodyscapes,” an exhibition of art that explores the human form as a landscape upon which artists project ideas of heritage, identity, celebration and absence, is on view through July 15 in the University of Delaware's Mechanical Hall Gallery.

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Curated by UD art history doctoral students Isabelle Havet and Cara Zimmerman Campbell in conjunction with the University Museums, “Bodyscapes” celebrates the growing collection of African American art at UD and honors the late University benefactor Paul R. Jones.

The works in the exhibition reveal bodies that are both figurative representations and historical narratives, as each locates cultural themes via depicted forms.

Heritage is often juxtaposed with collective or individual identity. The works of Floyd Coleman, David Driskell and Robin Holder acknowledge African legacy in the construction of the contemporary African American self by referencing a variety of African cultural forms, including textiles, sculptural traditions and mythologies.

In the same vein, Curlee Holton's Legacy combines individual portraits with legal documents relating to the African American experience and journey.

While works such as Legacy focus on the male form, the exhibition also touches on aspects of the female experience. Artists Thornton Dial and Alison Saar explore group identity of women through allegorical female figures and fantastic narratives.

Photographers P.H. Polk and Carrie Mae Weems present candid views of family rituals, rites of passage and performance, and through glimpsed moments reveal the intellectual and cultural prowess of black women and the greater African American community.

“Bodyscapes” also includes works by artists who reference the corporeal without specifically delineating form. John Feagin, Lonnie Holley and Arthur Parks hint at the presence of figures, but the viewer is required to fill in the implied forms. Lawrence Huff's Boots asks the viewer to imagine the owner of the depicted footwear, and although his body is absent, their owner's presence permeates the scene.

The Mechanical Hall Gallery is open noon to 5 p.m., Wednesday through Sunday, and noon to 8 p.m., Thursday. It is closed during University breaks and holidays.