Linda Smith, A&E Editor
The University of Dallas Haggerty Art Gallery will have its first fall exhibition debut on Sept. 1. “The Body Politic” is the combination of drawings by Vesna Jovanovic and drawings and sculpture by Jayne Lawrence.
The art department advertises that these two artists are “working from the common thread of metaphors that characterize human nature, both behavioral and biological,” and that they “confront us with the hybrid forms of their creations. Each sees the contradiction of the beautiful and the frightening in our attempts to conceptualize and explain our characters and actions.”
According to her website, vesnaonline.com, Jovanovic was born in Chicago and lived in Yugoslavia for most of her childhood. The Yugoslav Wars brought her back to the United States. She completed bachelor’s degrees in both chemistry and fine arts with an emphasis in ceramics at Loyola University Chicago. Then she worked in a laboratory while attending the School of the Art Institute of Chicago. There, she was awarded a Recognition Merit Award and earned a degree in studio art. She later received a master’s in photography from Ohio State University.
The series that will be on display is entitled “Foreign Bodies.” The work comes out of the questions: “What is the relationship between the human body and the outside world?” and “Where is the threshold between the two?”
“I am interested in how human bodies are perceived and treated in science, politics, media and culture in general,” Jovanovic said. “Each drawing is the result of questions I was asking regarding the relationship between the body and everything else – the non-body. Some of the things that entered my mind as I created this work are medical ethics, body politics and the human microbiome.”
Jovanovic’s preferred medium is paper and ink, and through that, she incorporates her scientific knowledge into her art.
“I enjoy the unpredictability of spilling ink and watching images emerge, like a Rorschach test,” Jovanovic said. “My work always has an element of chance incorporated into it. The initial inkblot guides me and gives me a place to start.”
Jovanovic leaves a didactic approach out of her art, instead showing “leftovers from the process of discovery and reflection” of the artist.
“I really hope that my art does not convey a message,” Jovanovic said. “The viewer can take anything from it, but for me as an artist – it is not intended to express nor communicate. It is a process of exploring materials, discovering relationships and generating ideas. As a viewer of art, I prefer seeing work that provides me with a singular experience. I prefer a source of inspiration and a break from the mundane instead of art that communicates something.”
Lawrence’s website, jaynelawrence.com, says that she was born in Elmhurst, Ill., and studied advertising at the Colorado Institute of Art. She received a bachelor’s and a master’s from the University of Texas at San Antonio.
“I can now admit without getting into trouble that in high school I would often miss class and catch the train into Chicago with a few friends and spend the day at the Chicago Art Institute trying to figure out the relationships between Peter Paul Rubens and Théodore Géricault’s paintings of writhing flesh, Duane Hanson’s hyperrealist figurative sculptures and Warhol’s larger-than-life Brillo Boxes,” Lawrence said. “I never considered those excursions, introductions into ‘art.’ Those trips were more about discovering a connection to a much larger family.”
Lawrence, like Jovanovic, is a multidisciplinary artist, frequently sculpting, drawing and making ceramics. Her upcoming body of work that will debut next year at the Southwest School of Art in San Antonio will include several works in oil and 3D printing.
Lawrence’s message in her work is “connectivity, beauty in difference, and similarity in the seemingly disparate.”
“I hope that visitors will be intrigued,” Lawrence said. “Seeing the work means spending time with it; sitting down and taking it in and getting lost in the nuances before coming back around to the ‘gestalt.’ Not every work reveals its essence right away. One could walk the gallery several times and discover something new with each circumnavigation.”
The Haggerty Gallery will host the exhibition from Sept. 1 to 28. Gallery hours are Monday through Friday, 10 a.m. to 5 p.m., and Saturday and Sunday, noon to 5 p.m. Jovanovic will give a public lecture Sept. 5 at 1 p.m. in the Art History Auditorium, and an opening reception is scheduled for the same day from 6 to 8 p.m.