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March 24 - April 23, 2017

Virginia Van Horn – "Adventures in the Peaceable Kingdom"

Sculpture
Main Gallery

Opening Reception for the Artists
Friday, March 24, 2017
7:00-10:00 pm
Free and Open to the Public

Closing Artist Talk
Sunday, April 23, 2017
2:00 pm
Free and Open to the Public


Artist Statement

My sculpture depicts contemporary animal imagery,with the animals often acting as alter egos, self-images or surrogates for humanity. Like a modern Aesop's Fables, they tell stories that are both true to their animal natures and evocative of the human condition. They can be merciful replacements for overwhelming human experience, only to become dispassionate observers of mankind's folly. These beasts are clearly anthropomorphic, sometimes in expression, sometimes in environment, sometimes just in the emotions that they share with the human race. My work uses animal images as a method for obliquely exploring modern life in a way that illuminates the intimate connection between the human and animal kingdoms.

For many years, my sculpture concentrated almost exclusively on horses, but gradually new animals have appeared in my work. The horse continues to be the central image; it's the animal that is the most biographical and represents me most. My other creatures represent different aspects of the world; for example, dogs are family, while crows are skeptical outsiders and shrewd observers of the human condition. I am especially interested in - and moved by - those animals that secretly reside in our own backyards, wild but suburban. Living lives parallel to our own, they exist almost invisibly both inside and outside of mankind's domain - a wild, mysterious presence amidst the barbecue grills and patio furniture. The juxtaposition of animals with man-made artifacts emphasizes their shared traits with humanity. My sculptures often refer to children's books that show animals in cozy human environments, but they can also suggest the animal's unsettling intrusion into our world, taking over as if humans have disappeared or invading our world as we have invaded theirs. This invasion suggests a combination of horror movie and bedtime story - part Hitchcock, part Disney.

Most of my sculptures are made from ordinary, commonplace materials, some as humble as paper towels. I'm interested in unexpected media, substances that may not be luxurious or traditionally used in sculpture, but have the surprising ability to evoke a living creature. Some of these materials are fragile and ephemeral, and this sense of fragility and precarious balance seems to be an ongoing element in my work.

Biography

Norfolk native Virginia Van Horn is a longtime member of the Hampton Roads art community and has an extensive exhibition record in both the region and the Southeast.

She received her BFA in printmaking from the University of North Carolina, Chapel Hill and her MFA in sculpture from the Visual Studies Program of Old Dominion and Norfolk State Universities. She also studied and exhibited in Urbino, Italy as part of a program sponsored by New York's School of Visual Arts. Most recently, she was a 2015 Visiting Artist at the American Academy in Rome.

Virginia currently teaches at the Governor's School for the Arts. Inspired by her childhood as a champion rider, she is fascinated by animal imagery, especially horses. Her recent work branches out from equestrian images to explore new and different combinations of animals,  both wild and domestic.




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Page Updated Jan. 2, 2017