Release Date: May 12,2018

Meet innovative Northeast Ohio artists at the Akron Art Museum

The Akron Art Museum is inviting the community to meet the Ohio artists featured in two of its current exhibitions: Jerry Birchfield: Asleep in the Dust and Frameworks: Paintings by Dragana Crnjak, Andrea Joki and Matthew Kolodziej. The reception is open to all and will be held on Thursday, May 17 from 6:15 to 8:00 pm as part of the museum’s celebration of Art Museum Day. All four artists are based in Northeast Ohio, and are creating work that contributes significantly to contemporary culture. The artists will talk briefly about their work in the galleries at 6:30 pm and be available for questions and conversation afterward.

Chief Curator Ellen Rudolph said, “You don’t always have to go to New York to connect with a group of artists doing significant and innovative work. Sometimes they live and work right in our backyard.”

Jerry Birchfield was born in Cleveland, earning his BFA from the Cleveland Institute of Art in 2009 and his MFA from Cornell University in 2014. Asleep in the Dust at the Akron Art Museum is his first solo museum show, and presents his non-traditional approach to photography and sculpture. Asleep in the Dust features examples of the artist’s recent photographs, plaster relief sculptures and an ambitious sculptural installation titled Yes, They Were Made to Level.

Assistant Curator Elizabeth Carney said, “Jerry Birchfield’s work challenges us to reconsider the way we look at photographs. We usually look for the picture and evaluate our interest in images based on their subject matter. In Birchfield’s work, lyrical abstract forms obscure or obliterate the images underlying the final composition. And when we can see parts of images, the subjects are not inherently beautiful. Beauty and meaning in Birchfield’s work emerges through the artist’s process, which transforms base materials into extraordinary objects.”

Dragana Crnjak, whose paintings are on view in Frameworks, is an associate professor of painting at Youngstown State University. The artist views her work as a foil to our addiction to moving images, creating paintings that layer fragmented patterns with crisp, geometric lines, creating images that appear to advance and recede the same time. A native of Serbia, Crnjak creates the patterns in her paintings by distorting images of Serbian embroidery patterns, tracing the resulting images in paint on her canvases.

Based in Cleveland and Los Angeles, Kent State University alumnus Andrea Joki creates paintings that meld sensory experiences of landscapes, people and places, drawing on impressions she observes during her travels. She paints both in loose, spontaneous brushstrokes and precise, hard-edged lines, sometimes layering those differing impulses in a single composition. The resulting veiled prisms of splattered paint undulate and flicker. Through painting, Joki seeks to discover the limits of what a painting can communicate about the world’s interconnectedness.

Matthew Kolodziej, a professor of painting and drawing at the University of Akron Myers School of Art, assembles photomontages from photographs of construction and demolition sites. Using a computer program, he translates the collaged images into line drawings that form the basis of his multifaceted, architectural paintings. The artist is especially interested in how the relentless volume of images that we process on a daily basis affects our way of seeing and our sense of place.

“Each of the artists in Frameworks seems to be mapping a combination of sensory experience, memory and data from external sources through their paintings. I was drawn to the idea that by layering geometric lines or frames within their paintings, each artist was attempting to impose some kind of structure on concepts that are amorphous and hard to pin down. At the same time, they create compositions that are constantly shifting, so the impulse to construct a framework is tempered with an embrace of the unknowable,” Rudolph said.

Art Museum Day is an initiative of the Association of Art Museum Directors, gathering hundreds of institutions across North America to recognize the arts and the important role that art museums play in their communities.

Jerry Birchfield: Asleep in the Dust and Frameworks: Paintings by Dragana Crnjak, Andrea Joki and Matthew Kolodziej are presented by the Akron Art Museum with support from the John S. and James L. Knight Foundation and the Ohio Arts Council.

For more information about Jerry Birchfield: Asleep in the Dust and Frameworks: Paintings by Dragana Crnjak, Andrea Joki and Matthew Kolodziej at the Akron Art Museum, visit the museum at akronartmuseum.org. Join the conversation on social media with #JerryBirchieldAkron and #FrameworksArt, and follow the museum on Facebook, Twitter and Instagram.