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MacArthur Fellow Judy Pfaff Exhibition Part of Hudson Valley Masters Series


NEW PALTZ -- Installation art pioneer Judy Pfaff, whose thirty-year career has achieved worldwide acclaim and accolades including a MacArthur Fellowship, has collaborated with the Samuel Dorsky Museum of Art at the State University of New York at New Paltz on an exhibition of new work that opens February 10, 2007. The forty works that comprise Judy Pfaff: New Prints and Drawings conflate the spontaneity of drawing and the masterful techniques of printmaking into a comprehensive and compelling exhibition. This display is part of the museum’s prestigious Hudson Valley Masters series which highlights the work of prominent artists who have lived and worked in the Hudson Valley and Catskill regions.

Judy Pfaff, 2005 Queen Anne's Lace, Ed. 20 Intaglio, surface roll 63 1/2 x 37 1/2 inches

An opening reception is scheduled for Saturday, February 10 from 5:00-7:00 p.m. The exhibition remains on view through April 7, 2007. A gallery talk and book-signing by the artist is planned for Tuesday, March 27, 7:00 p.m.

Pfaff received a MacArthur Foundation Fellowship in 2004. Often referred to as the "genius award," this prize includes an unrestricted $500,000 grant distributed over five years. According to the MacArthur Foundation, Pfaff is in the midst of a prolific career as a sculptor, installation artist, painter, and printmaker. At the heart of her work is her exploration of how to make painting more three-dimensional and sculpture more painterly.

Since the beginning of her career in the 1970s, Pfaff has worked with a wide and unusual range of materials and has inspired younger artists to venture outside the traditional distinctions made between painting and sculpture. Pfaff moves back and forth easily between two and three-dimensional work, creating art that is complex, profuse, and unique. While primarily a sculptor, Pfaff's concepts are expressed with equal power in her paintings, prints, and drawings. Her work continues to evolve, and she has recently begun to explore the inclusion of photographic/digital imagery into her prints and installations.

Pfaff energetically investigates natural and built worlds in the Hudson Valley and elsewhere, with each of her works taking on a distinct personality due to her intensive engagement with materials and processes. The outcome is the creation of an extensive body of surprising and powerful work.

Pfaff’s prints incorporate multiple plates, collaged papers, as well as translucent, transparent and opaque layering at times combined with folded, perforated and cut papers. Her media of choice are as extensive as her techniques – photogravure, encaustic, lithography, silkscreen, woodcuts and other processes. The resulting complex pieces are presented in elaborate frames designed and fabricated to Pfaff’s specifications, and intended to be part of the work.

Reflecting on her artistic explorations Pfaff says, "… you should be allowed to test murky, unclear, unsure territory or all you have left are substitutes that signify these positions. Having it all together is the least interesting thing in art, in being alive."

For Pfaff’s exhibition, the SDMA borrowed works from Tandem Press, the Chazen Museum of Art, Madison, Wisconsin, Elena Zang Gallery, Shady, New York, and Judy Pfaff’s personal collection.

Along with this exhibition, the SDMA will present Judy Pfaff Selects, comprising more than two dozen works from the museum’s permanent collection chosen by and installed under Pfaff’s direction. While particularly interested in the museum's World Collection and photography holdings, Pfaff is choosing objects and designing a far-reaching installation full of sensitive, unexpected connections between better and lesser-known works held by the museum. This project will open on February 24.

Judy Pfaff, 2005 White Light, Ed. 30 Letterpress, lithography, wax, encaustic, acrylic 12 3/8 x 23 1/8 inches

SDMA curator Brian Wallace notes, "It is inspiring to work with Judy Pfaff on an exhibition of her own work and on her selections from the SDMA collections. Judy makes, finds, edits, filters, and layers her images of nature and the built environment—ancient trees, decaying buildings, tiny leaves and blossoms, meandering footpaths, fantastical architecture—with intense exuberance. While it's not always the primary subject, the fundamental connection between creation and destruction that I see as this artist's central concern is always there, lurking somewhere, in these works. As Judy delved into the SDMA collection, looking for connections between familiar and new works, she also spent time re-thinking some of the links among her own works, eventually coming up with a selection that puts some of those connections—between images, techniques, and metaphors—on display."

A full-color catalogue documenting both parts of the exhibition—Pfaff's own prints and drawings and her installation of part of the SDMA collection—will be available at a gallery talk and book-signing by the artist on Tuesday, March 27, at 7:00 p.m. This event is free and open to all. Generous funding for the catalogues produced for exhibitions in the Hudson Valley Masters series is provided by Jim and Mary Ottaway of New Paltz New York.

Judy Pfaff, 1999-2000 Oxygen mixed media on paper 54 x 101 inches Courtesy of Elena Zang Gallery

Judy Pfaff, who currently lives and works in the Hudson Valley, received a B.F.A. (1971) from Washington University, St. Louis, and an M.F.A. (1973) from Yale University. Since 1971, she has held numerous visiting faculty appointments at such institutions as the California Institute of Arts, Yale University, the Rhode Island School of Design, Oberlin College, and Princeton University. Pfaff was a member of the graduate faculty at the School of Visual Arts, New York (1986-1991), and professor of visual arts at Columbia University (1992-1994). Since 1994, she has been professor of art at Bard College.

She has mounted more than 100 solo exhibitions and installations and participated in more than 200 group exhibitions. Her work appears in the collections of the Museum of Modern Art, New York, the Whitney Museum of American Art and the Albright-Knox Gallery. In addition to the MacArthur Fellowship, Pfaff is a past recipient of National Endowment for the Arts and Guggenheim fellowships. Pfaff represented the United States at the Bienal de Sâo Paolo in 1998. Judy Pfaff's newest installation, at Rice University Art Gallery in Houston, Texas, opens simultaneously with the SDMA exhibition.

The Hudson Valley Masters series of exhibitions is the most significant manifestation of the SDMA's mission-based commitment to focus on the cultural heritage of the Hudson Valley and Catskill region. Each exhibition provides an in-depth exploration of all or a significant part of an artist's career and each is accompanied by a scholarly catalogue presenting varied perspectives on the artist's work. To date, the museum has mounted four exhibitions in the series: Robert Morris; Lesley Dill: A Ten-Year Survey; Bolton Coit Brown: A Retrospective; and Don Nice: The Nature of Art. Judy Pfaff: New Prints and Drawings will be the fifth component to the series.

About the Museum
The Samuel Dorsky Museum of Art is dedicated to collecting, researching, interpreting, and exhibiting works of art from diverse cultures. The permanent collection spans a period of almost 4,000 years. Areas of specialization include 20th-century paintings and works on paper, Asian and Pre-Columbian art and artifacts, metals and photographs. SDMA has a special commitment to collecting and exhibiting important works of art created by artists who have lived and worked in the Hudson Valley and Catskill regions. The Museum is a major cultural resource in the Hudson Valley serving a broad-based constituency from both on and beyond the New Paltz campus.
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