Indiana State University Newsroom

Magic realism showcased in University Art Gallery Feb. 22-March 22

February 18, 2013

Ghosts, humans in bat costumes, and anthropomorphized birds are among the images in the University Art Gallery's exhibition "Lies that Tell the Truth: Magic Realism in Contemporary Art." On display from Feb. 22 through March 22, the exhibition includes works by nine internationally acclaimed contemporary artists - Kate Breakey, Susan Hauptman, Nicholas Kahn and Richard Selesnick, Peter Milton, Shana Moulton, Shana and Robert ParkeHarrison, and Xiaoze Xie.

A series of lectures will be presented in conjunction with the exhibition. Xie, one of the featured artists, will speak about his work at a special opening reception on Feb.21. On Feb. 26 Joy O'Keefe, assistant professor in Indiana State's Department of Biology will present the lecture "Bats in Trouble: The Truth About Indiana's Bats," and on March 5 Susan Griffin, editor of the Henry James Review, will speak about James' magic realist story, The Jolly Corner (The exhibition includes Peter Milton's interpretation of the story in his three-part etching series). The lectures begin at 5:30 p.m. in the Landini Center for Performing and Fine Art's Recital Hall across from the Gallery followed by a reception.

This multi-medium exhibition of paintings, photographs, etchings, drawings, and video explores magic realism, a mode in literature and the visual arts which Magic Realism developed after World War I. For many decades thereafter numerous artists crafted a representational art, mixed with elements of fantasy, full of remarkable detail and sharp focus. Magic Realism tricks observers by hiding unexpected or suggestive content in what at first might seem to be a common or ordinary scene.

By painting on top of her black and white photographs of birds and other animals Kate Breakey "gently skews reality a bit." In these larger-than-life-size portraits she attempts to compensate for the animals' tragic end by giving them an imaginary afterlife. In her photorealistic, yet mysterious, self-portraits Susan Hauptman toys with social conventions and gender identities. Forty photographs from Kahn and Selesnick's Truppe Fledermaus series tell the story of a 1930s theater troupe that enacts carnivalesque performances for the animals.

Shana Moulton's abstract and dreamlike work is a layering of video, performance, and prop staging. In her Whispering Pines 8 video Moulton's alter ego Cynthia relishes the life-changing potential of kitschy home décor. Among the five photographs from Robert and Shana ParkeHarrison's recent Counterpoint series is Mourning Cloak II in which a group of brightly colored butterflies float down from above to land on the back of an Everyman seated in a bed in a cell-like room. According to the artists, their Counterpoint photographs "feature an ambiguous narrative that offers insight into the dilemma posed by science and technology's failed promise to fix our problems, provide explanations, and furnish certainty pertaining to the human condition."

In Xiaoze Xie's large, hyperrealistic paintings of compressed newspaper stacks, one can find images of the spectacle of the day, the Chinese government's propaganda campaigns, and suffering faces of victims. Also included in the exhibition are two photogravures and a painting from Xie's Chinese library series.

The exhibition and lectures are free and open to the public. The University Art Gallery is located in the Richard G. Landini Center for Performing and Fine Arts, located corner of North 7th and Chestnut streets. Gallery hours are Monday through Friday 11 am to 4 pm, Thursday 11 am to 7 pm. For free group or school tours contact Jason Saavedra at 812-237-3720.


Contact: Barbara Räcker, University Curator, 812-237-3787 or

Story Highlights

Ghosts, humans in bat costumes, and anthropomorphized birds are among the images in the University Art Gallery's exhibition "Lies that Tell the Truth: Magic Realism in Contemporary Art." The exhibition includes works by internationally acclaimed artists.

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