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(PDF) (DOC) (JPG)November 14, 2002

(Mahwah) – Figure and Puppet, an exhibition opening Wednesday, November 20 in the Berrie Center at Ramapo College of New Jersey, features artists who make puppets and puppet-like constructions. A reception is scheduled from 5 to 8 p.m. and a curator and artists’ talk at 6 p.m. The exhibit continues through December 20.

I think Figure and Puppet is the most exciting show we have done here in the Berrie Center,” says co-curator Sydney Jenkins, director of galleries at Ramapo. The primary focus is on contemporary artists, with a few earlier examples. The exhibition begins with a small historical section in the Kresge Gallery and a large constructed scene by Peter Schumann of Bread and Puppet Theater, and ends in the adjacent Pascal Gallery with contemporary projection works by Tony Oursler.

Inherently multidisciplinary and drawing on the universal language of images, puppetry has crossed international borders and bridged diverse cultures for centuries,” says co-curator Leslee Asch, who was associated with the Jim Henson Company for over 20 years. At its very heart, it is a fusion of art forms: all elements of the visual and performing arts are employed, including painting, sculpture, text, music, movement and technology.”

Co-curator Jenkins and Berrie Center Director Jane Stein collaborated on the exhibition and a Berrie Center series of performances, Puppetfest!, running December 4 – 8, involving all the arts in multidisciplinary presentations.

Inderdisciplinary experimentation is not new,” add Asch, but it has never been more vibrant. The lines between disciplines are becoming more transparent, more porous. Strengthening and stretching this blurring of the boundaries between the visual and the performing arts offers an exciting foreshadowing of the artistic possibilities of the future.”

As director of exhibitions at the Jim Henson Company, Asch was responsible for nationally and internationally acclaimed touring exhibitions. She also served as executive director of The Jim Henson Foundation and was producing director of the Henson International Festival of Puppet Theater for 10 years. She recently left to explore new projects and possibilities, but will remain an active board member and passionate advocate for the field – the edges of which she sees as boundless and inclusive of technologies and robotic processes old, new and as yet unimagined. She also serves as editorial advisor for Puppetry International.

The Berrie Center galleries are open Tuesday through Friday from 1 to 5 p.m.

ABOUT THE ARTISTS

Anonymous
The show begins with an anonymous 19th century French hand puppet on loan from the Zimmerli Art Museum at Rutgers.

Bread and Puppet Theater (Peter Schumann)
Bread and Puppet Theater is known for large pageants and work that is aggressively political and haunting at the same time. Peter Schumann, the leader and vision behind Bread and Puppet Theater, collaborated with his son Max to build an installation in the Kresge Gallery. Their work mixes paintings, puppets and text to address the current political climate and threats of war. Historical examples of important works from Bread and Puppet Theater will be exhibited in the Berrie Center lobby. Bread and Puppet Theater will perform Insurrection Mass with Funeral March for a Rotten Idea and How to Turn Distress into Success: A Parable of War and Its Making Tuesday, December 10 at 7 p.m.

Ronnie Newman/Ronor Marionettes
Saddle River artist Ronnie Newman will present hand-carved marionettes from his Ronor Marionettes production of The Emperor and the Nightingale” (c.1960s).

Kathy Rose
Rose is represented by two projection puppet works and a video of her performances. She projects animation and abstract patterns using her body as a canvas and performs worldwide. Rose was recently featured artist at the San Francisco Butoh Festival and had a one-woman exhibition at Eis Fabrik in Germany.

Elizabeth King/Katherine Wetzel
Elizabeth King is a professor of sculpture in the Department of Sculpture at Virginia Commonwealth University. She received a Guggenheim Fellowship this year. Her work is a collaboration with Richmond photographer Katherine Wetzel and was the subject of the Abrams book, Attention’s Loop: (A Sculptor’s Reverie on the Coexistence of Substance and Spriit). Wetzel’s elegant photographs document the puppet narrative that she sculpts and animates.

Basil Twist
Basil Twist is a cutting edge performance artist who works with puppets. He displays part of a recent work with Mabou Mines entitled Red Beads. Twist has performed internationally, most recently at the Andy Warhol museum in Pittsburgh.

Barbara Pollitt
Barbara Pollitt exhibits a bird puppet, the Harpie”, from The Tempest and the figure puppet, Joe Clark,” from Spunk, both directed by George Wolfe.

Tony Oursler
Tony Oursler is considered to be the most influential projection artist working with the human figure form. His work is widely collected by museums and skirts the line between puppetry and portraiture. Spectral Disorder” is from Oursler’s groundbreaking series projecting faces onto sock puppet-like constructions, which speak to the viewer in ambiguous dialogues.

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Ramapo College of New Jersey is the state’s premier public liberal arts college and is committed to academic excellence through interdisciplinary and experiential learning, and international and intercultural understanding. The College is ranked #1 among New Jersey public institutions by College Choice, and is recognized as a top college by U.S. News & World Report, Kiplinger’s, Princeton Review and Money magazine, among others. Ramapo College is also distinguished as a Career Development College of Distinction by CollegesofDistinction.com, boasts the best campus housing in New Jersey on Niche.com, and is designated a “Military Friendly College” in Victoria Media’s Guide to Military Friendly Schools.

Established in 1969, Ramapo College offers bachelor’s degrees in the arts, business, humanities, social sciences and the sciences, as well as in professional studies, which include business, education, nursing and social work. In addition, the College offers courses leading to teacher certification at the elementary and secondary levels, and offers graduate programs leading to master’s degrees in Accounting, Business Administration, Educational Technology, Educational Leadership, Nursing, Social Work and Special Education.

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