Figuration and Its Disconnects


February 17–May 14, 2011


Artist List

Bruce Adams, James A. Allen, Roberley Bell, Amanda Besl, Jonathan Daly, Andrew Engl, Jackie Felix, Leon Golub, Libby Hague, Richard Huntington, Lester Johnson, Joan Linder, Nathan Naetzker, William Scott, Kurt Von Voetsch, and Adam Weekley.


The exhibition title “Figuration and its Disconnects” is a play on Sigmund Freud’s canonical book Civilization and Its Discontents (1929), which examines the interplay between society and the individual, whose instinctual desires for aggression and sex threaten to destabilize societal relations.

The twentieth century bore witness to the upheavals of continuous war, the Space Age, the Civil Rights and Women’s movements, decolonization, ecological devastation, and the rise of mass media. “Figuration and its Disconnects” explores how we relate to each other, and even inanimate objects, in such a world. The exhibition pairs work from the university’s permanent collection by Bruce Adams, Leon Golub, Libby Hague, Lester Johnson, and William Scott with work by Western New York-based artists James A. Allen, Roberley Bell, Amanda Besl, Jonathan Daly, Andrew Engl, Jackie Felix, Richard Huntington, Joan Linder, Nathan Naetzker, Kurt Von Voetsch, and Adam Weekly that includes drawings, paintings, and an immersive installation.

These artists’ representations of people and things comment on the authority, seduction, miscommunication, powerlessness, happiness, whimsy, and alienation that arguably define our communal existence. A man asleep next to a corded phone; expertly tied ropes suggesting the contours and weight of an absent body; sunlit young women on the cusp of adulthood; frieze-like giants dancing in city streets; and a dead starling set against a fuchsia background are just a few of the images, impregnated with the violence and pleasure of their lived realities, that viewers will encounter in this exhibition.