Artist Inbox: The “Subjective” art exhibit

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Becca Bernstein & Gwenn Seemel’s collaborative effort

Kyla Becker
The Broadside

Two artists, two views, 10 people.COCC’s Pinckney Art Gallery hosts artists Becca Bernstein and Gwenn Seemel’s collaborative effort, the “Subjective” art exhibit. The exhibit is a result of a shared project in portraiture between the two artists and explores the way an artist’s relationship with their subject affects the finished likeness.

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The exhibit will be at The Gallery at the Pinckney Center for the Arts on the Bend campus, in Pence Hall. Viewers will be able to visit The Gallery Monday through Friday 9am to 4pm.

According to the bio on her website – gwennseemel.com – Gwenn Liberty Seemel’s work comes in two varieties: the individual portrait and the portrait in a series. Seemel also paints portraits of groups for the purpose of exploring a particular issue such as “what does it mean to be a woman?”

Seemel’s awards include two Emergency Relief Grants from the Artists’ Fellowship Inc. of New York, New York and Change Inc. of Captiva, Florida in 2009, as well as another Emergency Relief Grant from the Haven Foundation in Brewer, Maine in 2010. Seemel also has a BA in Studio Art and French, graduating summa cum laud from Willamette University in Salem, Oregon in 2003.

Becca Bernstein has a BA in Drawing and graduated cum laude at Lewis and Clark College in Portland, Oregon. Her work can be found in the public collections of the City of Lake Oswego, Oregon, the Interstate Firehouse Cultural Center, Cascade Aids Projects, the Northwest Business for Culture and the Arts and the Oregon Ballet Theatre, as well as being represented by Gallery Heinzel in Aberdeen, Scotland, according to her biography on beccabernstein.net.

Bernstein goes on to describe her work as focused on human relationships, family, and aging. She states she explores issues of human fragility and strength in what she describes as “the awkward dance of human interdependence.” Bernstein has also worked closely with residents of senior long-term care homes in Oregon and Scotland since 1998.

Margie Boulè, a columnist for The Oregonian commented “Bernstein and Seemel share an ability to see their portrait models as more than just flesh and figure,” while reporting on the “Subjective” exhibit while it was in Portland this past January.

‘Portraits are paintings of two people, the subject and the artist. The subject of a portrait is the relationship between the artist and the sitter, whether momentary or lifelong,’ stated a plaque on the wall printed with a few words from the artists.

I found the exhibit to be an artist rendition of an emic and etic perspective, or rather the insider and outsider views of a person. Where one artist shows things as they are while also acknowledging the mystery behind people and things unknown, the other artist creates a fantastical image that lends itself to presenting the personality of the model through the kaleidoscope view of the artist.

Overall it is a beautiful exhibit that truly exemplifies the focus of the artists’ relationship rather than the subject matter of the painting.

You may contact Kyla Becker at
kyla.becker@hotmail.com

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