Unique forms of art on display at Catich
by The Buzz staff writer Brooke Schelly
Hanging on the walls of St. Ambrose University's Catich Gallery are pieces that are not typical pieces of art. These pieces are not comprised of brush strokes or captured by a camera. They don't display well in frames or require intense abstract thinking. Rather, they celebrate the simple things in life: fabric and paper.
The Catich Gallery in the Galvin Fine Arts Center will display works by Erick Wolfmeyer and Brian Borchardt from Sept. 10 to Oct. 24. A special artist lecture by Wolfmeyer and Borchardt will take place in Galvin Room 141 on Thursday, Sept. 18, from 4-4:45pm. Join the artists in the Catich Gallery for a reception following the artist lecture from 5-7pm that same evening.
Erick Wolfmeyer designs and creates quilts. His work is filled with detail and finesse, so it is no wonder that there is more beneath the surface. Wolfmeyer's journey began at a young age after being adopted. Although he had parents, he always wondered what his biological family was like. Through the years he grew to better understand himself, his adoptive family and eventually his biological family as well. This exprience has shaped who he is today, and is reflected greatly in his quilting.
"My work is inspired by the search for and construction of identity and relationship," Wolfmeyer said. "Much of it is, like many art forms, at the deepest level - autobiographical.
"The quilts are the results of my wrestling with parts of my life in this medium of quiltmaking, which I think of as abstract expressionism. I essentially paint and construct with fabric. The quilts become a metaphor for piecing my identity together, day by day, year by year, as I acknowledge, honor and integrate the losses I experienced as an adoptee."
Wolfmeyer created his first quilt for a friend in 1998. From there, he created quilts for purchase and for gallery showings. One piece in particular, "Portmanteau," brought him numerous opportunities. The word portmanteau can be defined as " a large trunk or suitcase, typically made of stiff leather and opening in two equal parts." Although this definition is reflected in Wolfmeyer's quilt as the main shape of the piece, it also can be seen on a deeper level.
"The quilt brings together light and dark and addresses the dichotomous split in consciousness I have experienced as an adoptee between nature and nurture, my two names, two sets of parents and two parallel realities," Wolfmeyer said. "There is a phantom life that walks beside the one I am living - one that begs the question: 'What if...' It is this very question that drives the creative process for me."
For Wolfmeyer it is hard to choose a favorite piece of art, mainly because it is the process he enjoys the most. The quilt is created over a long period of time, usually between six months to a year. The quilt can only be enjoyed in the short-term due to the fact that it will either quickly be purchased or sent off to be shown in a gallery.
"No quilt is a favorite," Wolfmeyer said. "Like children, each means something different to me. It's usually connected to what was going on in my life at the time I was making it and/or what came about as a result of having made a particular quilt at a particular time."
Showing alongside Wolfmeyer are a collection of books celebrating paper and typeface created by Brian Borchardt.
"My work combines my passion for books, reading and printing," Borchardt said in an artist statement released to the university, "The physical nature of books is strongly ingrained in my desire to create pieces that are tactile, intriguing and accessible."
Borchardt started making books after being introduced to Book Arts through two close friends from Stevens Point, Wis. Shortly thereafter, he started making books with little to no background training or education in teh field. In 2003, he created a private press located in Stevens Point called Seven Hills Press that produces limited edition letterpress books.
"The name Seven Hills Press was inspired by my first trip to the wonderful city of Rome," Borchardt said.
The Catich Gallery is open Monday-Friday, 9am-5pm or by appointment. For more informartion about Erick Wolfmeyer, visit his website, www.ewolfmeyerquilts.com. To learn more about Brian Borchardt, his website is located at www.sevenhillspress.com.