CCAD Alumna, Staff Explore Life’s Questions in Exhibition

September 28th, 2011 by Katlin McNally
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Exhibition put on by Julie Abijanac and Char Norman

The cycle and beauty of life can be expressed in many different forms and CCAD faculty member and alumna, Julie Abijanac (CCAD 1992) and staff member Char Norman showcase this in their two-person exhibition Reaction∫Response.

Norman and Abijanac’s exhibition questions the relationship humans have with nature and science. It deals with the psychical and psychological process of life and death.

Fine arts alumna, Abijanac questions mortality in her artwork by approaching it in from both a microscopic and psychological point of view.

Norman, dean of faculty, focuses on environmental aspects. Her work showcases man’s impact on earth and questions the harm people may be inflicting on nature.

This exhibition is a visual response to  their life experiences through the use of fiber, handmade paper, repurposed materials, and drawings.

After being diagnosed with Hodgkin’s Lymphoma, Abijanc was told by doctors that the carcinogens in oil-based paint would leave her having to wear a mask and gloves, disconnecting her from her art.

Abijanac found herself switching mediums and inspiration for her work. She had to had to “relearn how to be an artist.”

She now works with paper, deconstructing and then rebuilding her artwork into representations of life’s cycle and obstacles.

“My work is very labor intensive and it is a journal for me, every tear and every layer is what I went through that day,” Abijanac said.

One of her pieces, La Poursuite de Prendre une Vie, illustrates a microscopic look at the disease taking over. Its title translates into, the pursuit to take a life.

“I wanted to create something pretty out of something so devastating and showcase the possibilities this material can take, by having something so ordinary become unusual and beautiful,” Abijanac said.

Paper is incorporated in Norman’s work also.

Norman works closely with handmade paper, fiber, and paint to create sculptures.

“I will wake up at four in the morning and work for two hours on making paper before going into work, and then I will come home and make more paper,” Norman explained of her diligent art process.

One piece Norman is excited to showcase is Pearl Gate.  This piece is a walk through sculpture that she collaborated on with her brother, Kurt Steger, who is also a sculptor. The piece is a free standing structure and was originally debuted in Roanoke College in Virginia at Steger’s solo exhibition.

“I think what makes Julie and I a good pair for this exhibition is our different, but similar takes on life and our responses to it, while also using similar labor intensive mediums,” Norman said

Reaction∫Response will be on display Oct.1–Nov. 12, 2011 at the Cultural Arts Center, 139 West Main St., Columbus, Ohio. The opening reception will take place Oct. 1, 4:30-7 p.m.

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