AAWR honors recently archived artists


Rebecca Kaler, Fallout, oil on canvas, 45 X 45 inches, circa 2010. Collection of the Artists Archives.

This winter, the Artists Archives of the Western Reserve will return to its roots by honoring artists who have recently entered the prestigious 10,000-piece collection of Ohio art.  On November 17, the museum opened an exhibition dedicated to painter Rebecca Kaler. Born in Mansfield, Ohio, Kaler uses bold, saturated colors and energetic brush strokes influenced by her extensive time spent abroad traveling to places as diverse as South America, Southern Africa, Siberia, Europe, Mexico, the Caribbean, Canada, and Bolivia, where she once served as a volunteer in the Peace Corps. For nearly twenty years, Kaler also served as the curator of the Pearl Conard Art Gallery on the Mansfield campus of The Ohio State University.

A major theme in Kaler’s work is the practice of mark making, using repetitive slashes and graffiti-style text to stake out her claim in time and space. Like paleolithic cave drawings, tally marks on jail cell walls, and the ubiquitous Kilroy of World War II, Kaler’s paintings address the primal impulse to impact our surroundings and proclaim our existence.

As she describes, “I use symbols, textures, bold strokes and colors to express a spectrum of human expressions from joy to anger, fear and frustration, and of calm and serenity in a range of environments because at our very core, we all want recognition and to feel that we counted for something… to say, ‘I was here, and I did good work.’”

Rebecca Kaler, portrait by Jef Janis, 2022. Collection of the Artists Archives.

Accompanying her 2-dimensional work will be a series of sculptural Boxes which take the concepts developed in her large-scale canvases and fold them into discrete, portable cubes for exploration in the round. They also play with the various meanings of the common object. She explains, “We use boxes for storage and to keep things safe… Then we box people in, we box in cattle so they don’t get away, or when the pressure is on, we feel boxed up, and too many problems can box us in. I took the box and gave it another meaning… I want to give the box itself a moment of glory, away from its job.”

This season, the Archives is also thrilled to announce the acceptance of printmaker Wendy Partridge, sculptor Mona Kolesar, and mixed media artist Dan Tranberg into its permanent collection. Images of the acquired work will be available as part of the museum’s extensive online database, launched in the winter of 2021. For more information on the newly-archived artists and to view their creations, visit artistsarchives.org.

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Rebecca Kaler – inaugural exhibition as an Archived Artist, through January 14

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