"Beyond Likeness" exhibit opens at North Dakota Museum of Art

On Tuesday, March 27, from 8 to 10 p.m., the North Dakota Museum of Art will host an opening reception for the new exhibition, "Beyond Likeness." The opening of the exhibition, curated by Laurel Reuter, coincides with the Writer’s Conference, "Writing the Body." Visiting writers include Miller Williams, Stuart Dybek, Mary Gaitskill, Li-Young Lee, Timothy Liu, Leslie Adrienne Miller, and Michelle Richmond. The reception Tuesday, which is free and open to the public, immediately follows the Presidential Lecture by Miller Williams. Wine and hors d’oeuvres will be served.

"Beyond Likeness" will be on display through May 13. It brings together the figurative work of Lalla Essaydi, Anne Harris, Elizabeth King, and Jennifer Onofrio. While all but Lalla Essaydi use their own bodies as the impetus for their art, the work in the exhibition has nothing to do with portraiture in the conventional sense. Moroccan Lalla Essaydi covers whole rooms and the women who inhabit them with calligraphy written in henna as she explores diverging concepts of Arab women. Anne Harris draws and paints her own body as a study of gravity and inner space. In "Beyond Likeness," she couples images of her mirrored self with small, exquisite paintings of her son Max, confirming, years later, his presence in forming both her interior and exterior self. Elizabeth King, now living in Richmond, Va., builds porcelain mannequins based in her own likeness, which she turns into remarkable mechanical wonders, glass eyes and all. They, in turn, are transformed into still photographs and shifting, moving images — odd, dreamlike, other worldly — all of which intermesh in the exhibition. Jennifer Onofrio photographs her own body, only to pare her images to shapes and forms that invoke inhabitants of the animal kingdom. Always elegant, Onofrio’s abstract form of a shoulder blade bring to mind a breast of chicken — stripped of its skin, — or an arm bearing an uncanny likeness to a wing or a fin, posed for movement.

Earlier this year the Museum has organized a related exhibition, "Introductions: Artists-Self Portraits," that brings the work of artists from the region together to exhibit in distant North Dakota communities. Through the Museum’s Rural School Initiative, schools as far as 400 miles from the Museum in Grand Forks are able to participate in Museum programming.

The North Dakota Museum of Art is located on Centennial Drive on the University of North Dakota campus in Grand Forks. Gallery hours are weekdays from 9 a.m. to 5 p.m. and weekends from 11 to 5 p.m. The Museum Shop is open during these hours as well. The Museum Café is open weekdays 10 a.m. to 4 p.m. with lunch served from 11 a.m. to 2 p.m. Although the Museum does not charge an admission fee, the suggested donation is $5 for adults and pocket change for children.
-- Brian Lofthus, Assistant to the Director, North Dakota Museum of Art, blofthus@ndmoa.com, 701 777-4195