The What and Why of "Erasure"

“Erasure” is currently on display in the Anna E. Kresge Library art gallery, featuring Covenant’s own art department, including the three full-time art professors, Jeff Morton, Elissa Yukiko Weichbrodt, and Kayb Joseph, as well as the three adjunct art professors Tom Kilpatrick, Tianna Weaver, and Kate Kelley.

“Erasure” is the name of the show, but the faculty featured in this show don’t want their viewers to erase the show from their minds.

Dr. Morton explains, “Erasure as a noun means the removal of writing, recorded material, or data. As a verb, to erase is a process of an attempt, an assessment, and a reassertion… I chose the title because I believe that the artists represented in ‘Erasure’ are deeply connected to an artistic practice situated in the space between doubt and belief, uncertain about their art but equally certain about the importance of their work.”

The birth of “Erasure” was the result of an unexpected opening in the fall schedule for the library art gallery. Dr. Weichbrodt suggested that the faculty fill the gap.

“I knew that all three full-time faculty had been making new work over the summer, so I suggested that we do a faculty show. I thought it would be a good opportunity for our students and colleagues to get a glimpse of what we do outside of the classroom,” Dr. Weichbrodt said.

Dr. Weichbrodt’s pieces were a response to a trip to Italy she took this past May.

“I needed a way to process all of the art that I had seen. Collage was the perfect medium for exploring the juxtapositions of beauty and violence that I saw in so many works in Europe. It was thrilling to see Bernini's “Apollo and Daphne” in person, for example, but also sobering to recognize how Apollo's unwanted sexual advances had been transformed into an aesthetically and technically stunning work of art,” Weichbrodt said. “I wanted a way to reconcile this with the many Visitation paintings. I also saw in Italy, images of Mary and Elizabeth reaching towards each other in empathetic understanding. Collage allowed me to both demonstrate the moral dilemma inherent in some of these Baroque and Renaissance artworks and to create alternative spaces for women to care for each other.”

Professor Kayb Joseph’s pieces follow a different vein, and not one that she usually chooses to pursue.

She explained that most of her previous work has something to do with the human figure. Professor Joseph’s pieces displayed in “Erasure,” however,  use a different sort of figure than those she is used to working with. “I feel like my work [in the show] is very abstract. It’s very conceptual. You could completely miss the point if you didn’t read the bio next to it.” After reading the bio however, the work begins to take on meaning that is not simply the viewer’s interpretation. These pieces are about memory.

“One of my good friends is a poet. One time when we were talking, she [said] ‘I can’t find that word, I can’t find that word,’ and it was just driving her crazy. ‘I’m a poet, I can always find the word... But you know what, ever since I had my kids I lose words all the time and it’s so aggravating to me.’ When I went into the studio the next day, I made [“Some of the Things I Gave to You”]. It was like a drawing of our conversation,” Joseph explained.

Professor Joseph went on to say that, before she had children, her memory was exceptional, and that she often remarks that she gave her memory to her children.

“I realized that’s something I actually think about all the time, so I decided, ‘I think I need to be making work about that,’” Joseph said.

Professor Jeff Morton’s pieces are something entirely different altogether. They are massive charcoal drawings of kudzu roots, made while he was on sabbatical. Kudzu is an invasive plant that has fascinated Professor Morton for a long time. In fact, last year, his work on kudzu was featured in the show “Thinking of a Place: Finding Home in the Wilderness” at Covenant College. These particular pieces evoke a sense of awe, and even fear.

In his Drawing Principles class, Professor Morton told a story of a conversation he overheard during the opening night of the show. A small child said to his parents that the drawings scared him and that he didn’t like them. Professor Morton, far from being discouraged, told his class that it was very exciting to him, because that was his intent. The drawings are not meant to be comforting. They are meant to, in a sense, overwhelm the viewer and render them speechless.

Tom Kilpatrick, Tianna Weaver, and Kate Kelley also feature pieces in this exhibit, but you should take a study break sometime and go check them out yourself.