Falling Through Space Drawn by the Line


September 20–December 8, 2012


Artist List

Reed Anderson, George Boorujy, Saul Chernick, Marsha Cottrell, David Dupuis, Lori Ellison, Edie Fake, Rosemarie Fiore, Ellen Lesperance, Schuyler Maehl, Anne Muntges, Toyin Odutola, Michelle Oosterbaan, Tony Orrico, Charles Ritchie, Stan Shellabarger, Molly Springfield, Allyson Strafella, Charmaine Wheatley, Ripley Whiteside, and Deborah Zlotsky.


Falling Through Space Drawn by the Line lures us into imagined landscapes, through fields of abstraction, and into recollections and observations of lived experiences. The artists in this exhibition work on paper and employ drawing as their primary mode of expression to pictorialize internal visions and grapple with the external world around them. Up until the twentieth century, drawing was generally considered subservient to painting, sculpture, and architecture by providing preparatory sketches to communicate and fine-tune ideas and forms. While drawing’s status has been elevated in recent years, it is still regarded for the ease and immediacy in which thoughts, perceptions, and emotions can be visualized using widely available materials such as ink and graphite.

As an embodied practice, drawing provides an antidote to the preponderance of digital gadgetry and media images that have infiltrated all aspects of society. Just as “Do-It-Yourself” culture and urban farming movements celebrate the handmade and physically connect us to the modes of production that sustain us are gaining in popularity. Even Marsha Cottrell, who uses a computer program to map out her invented cosmos, perceives the mouse as a pencil-like tool and carefully pieces together individual sheets of paper as if she was assembling a quilt or large-scale mosaic. Allyson Strafella, Lori Ellison, Tony Orrico, and Stan Shellabarger stress the temporal dimension of drawing through sustained repetitive marks that record and measure their corporeal presence. Through the unassuming gestures of walking, tiny pen strokes, sweeping graphite arcs, and typing on a custom-built manual typewriter, these artists invite the viewer to relate to their process and perhaps enter a meditative state in which the fragility and simple beauty of existence and creation can be contemplated.

Drawing carries the history of its own making. Unlike painting, which can easily conceal the marks and different compositional strategies employed by the artist, in drawing one can detect the artist's hand through misplaced lines, erasures, increased pressure on the medium, and wobbly lines dynamically getting thicker and thinner. Charmaine Wheatley exposes her process and embraces these so-called imperfections. She records evanescent moments, which generally pass unnoticed, in watercolor, fine-tipped pens, and unconventional on-hand materials, for instance, glittery nail polish or a thin wash of fruit juice or soup. George Boorujy, David Dupuis, Edie Fake, Ellen Lesperance, and Toyin Odutola also mine their surroundings for content as they seduce the viewer through bold lines, vivid color, and dazzling pattern into considering socio-political topics such as queer and racial identities, feminist history, and human-animal relationships.

Drawers tend to have an intensely intimate rapport between their mediums and the surface on which they record their presence. Drawing possesses a magical capacity to conjure worlds and convey stories, as cave dwellers realized 12,000 years ago and children intuitively know when they swirl together galaxies of color and begin to translate their scrawls into representations of people, places, and things. Falling Through Space Drawn by the Line connects us to this fundamental human activity of mark-making and presents captivating universes parallel to our own. It also shows how marks on a page or even one’s own passage through space—in which visible and invisible traces record one movement onto the material world—can constitute drawing.


Exhibition co-curated by Sandra Q. Firmin (curator, UB Art Galleries) and Joan Linder (associate professor, UB’s Department of Visual Studies).

Generous support for the exhibition is provided by Shoshana and Wayne Blank. Additional support was provided by UB’s Department of Visual Studies.