“Inadequacy of Words,” an exhibit of 14 artworks by California artist and teacher Katina Huston, will be on display Sept. 15-Oct. 27 in the second-floor Art Space gallery of Terrence Murphy Hall on St. Thomas’ Minneapolis campus, 1000 LaSalle Ave.
The exhibit opens with a reception for the artist from 5 to 7 p.m. Friday, Sept. 15, in the gallery. The reception and exhibit are free and open to the public. Gallery hours are 7 a.m. to 11 p.m. Monday through Thursday and 7 a.m. to 5 p.m. Friday and Saturday. The Art Space is closed on Sundays.
Huston, of Oakland, Calif., is a ceramics lecturer at California State University. She has exhibited her works, given guest lectures and been an artist-in-residence primarily in her home state. She has a B.A. in the history of fine arts from New York University and an M.F.A. in studio Art from Mills College in Oakland, Calif. In 1991 she accepted a residency at St. John’s University in Collegeville, Minn., and has continued to be a guest faculty member there and at the nearby College of St. Benedict in St. Joseph. “Inadequacy of Words” has been exhibited at St. Benedict’s Benedicta Arts Center this year.
The exhibit chronicles Huston’s experimentation with new bodies of artwork begun when she finished graduate school. Noting that distress that often inspires art, she explains, “This work came from a limbo I was in. … Having run out of angst I was more or less happy. I had lost my subject. These works are the evidence of my search,” she said. “Without subject or known material I poked at elements.”
Among the elements were found objects — uncommon accumulations of common materials. Huston worked with materials such as egg shells disgarded from a factory, human hair and flower petals. With the latter she created a piece called “Rosary,” 38 rosary balls of various sizes based on a 12th-century rosary “recipe.”
“[The recipe] called for mashing and cooking and mashing and cooking rose petals in an iron pot for 12 days with 10 rusty nails,” Huston explains. “Then they were compressed, layer by layer, into balls and dried. It is said that they will smell of roses for 100 years when held in the hand in prayer.”
Huston found a nursery willing to donate 4,000 roses during the three-year project. Every week she picked up a few hundred roses and would pull their petals, one by one, into a shopping bag.
“Cuisinart gave me a food processor for the project and I whirred the petals into an exquisite powder of reds. I could not have been more surprised when the whole thing turned black. I was astonished that 4,000 roses, which had tremendous visual weight, turned into heavy, dull black balls. I kept looking for the rose in them. … All that color and beauty reduced by fire became dark and heavy. “
The artist said this result sums up the theme of this exhibit: “The varied elements of these works are all transformed. The substance of their presence has been detached from the moment of their being. I would say that the exhibit is about the recording of unseen presences … words said but unheard … presences felt but not recognized.”
Huston’s exhibit is co-sponsored by St. Thomas’ Art History Department and the Art Exhibitions Committee. For further information, call (651) 962-5560