During 2014, the Swope Art Museum will focus on the relationship between art and literature, beginning with three exhibitions that open on Feb. 7. “Craig McDaniel: The Story of E and Other Love Letters” and “Inward Eye: Richard Anuszkiewicz and William Blake,” will be on view from Feb. 7 to March 8 in the Haslem and Hodge Galleries and Gallery Three, while “From the Swope’s Collection: Selected Art Inspired by Literature,” will be on view from Feb. 7 to March 22 in the Education Gallery. The exhibitions are made possible by the Alliance of the Swope.
In “Craig McDaniel: The Story of E and Other Love Letters,” artist and author Craig McDaniel presents a body of work that reflects his dual background in creative writing and painting. After focusing on narrative paintings for more than 25 years, McDaniel, associate dean and professor of Fine Arts at Herron School of Art and Design, IUPUI, wrote an experimental novel combining images and words. Completed in a little more than one year, “The Story of E (or A Beautiful Bird: Songs of E),” published with an IAHI grant from Indiana University, drew from characters and scenes in the artist’s paintings. Since McDaniel wrote “The Story of E,” his paintings have in turn become influenced by the novel, creating an ongoing circular project of paintings, words and pages.
McDaniel’s narrative paintings are highly detailed and reveal the artist’s lyrical use of color. The mundane domestic settings and activities include elements of fantasy or dream as well as humor and poetry that represent the profundity of everyday moments. With images that reflect several times of day and seasons, the paintings defy the visual conventions of time, conveying a sense of mystery and melancholy.
As McDaniel wrote “The Story of E,” he began considering how literary passages might look if the alphabet were coded as blocks of color. On view in the exhibition will be the resulting series of “alphabet paintings,” geometric abstractions based on passages of literature and texts by the artist. The letters in the texts are represented with an alphabet coded in blocks of color. Included in each work is the key to the alphabet color coding system that McDaniel created for that particular text.
“Inward Eye: Richard Anuszkiewicz and William Blake” presents a suite of prints by renowned Op Artist Richard Anuszkiewicz. Anuszkiewicz created the “Inward Eye” suite after a friend told him that his work brought to mind that of the English visionary poet-artist William Blake (1757-1827). Anuszkiewicz explores the nature of visual perception in his work, and the rhythm that he creates through the use of geometric and linear forms and vibrating colors of equal value has sometimes been compared to the cadence of poetry. Each of the 10 prints in “Inward Eye” is housed in a folio that contains two excerpts from Blake’s writings.
Also opening on Feb. 7 is “From the Swope’s Collection: Selected Art Inspired by Literature,” featuring works of art in the Museum’s collection that were inspired by great works of literature. Included will be works by Robert Indiana, Terre Haute native Gilbert Wilson, Terre Haute artist James Farrington Gookins and Ben Shahn.
All three exhibitions open during the museum’s free “First Friday: Readings and Drawings” from 6 to 9 p.m. Feb. 7. McDaniel will read from his novel at 7 p.m., and at 8 p.m., the Alliance of the Swope will conduct its annual raffle drawing, open to everyone.
The Swope is open Tuesday through Saturday at 25 S. Seventh St. Admission is free.