Categorized | Arts & Entertainment

Books, paintings and photos on display in Ebert

Emily Timmerman


The College of Wooster Art Museum opened this past week with new exhibitions in both galleries, featuring the work of three different artists. In the Sussel Gallery, Ellen Sheffield’s sculptural books share the space with Bea Nettles’ photography and artist books. Shiva Ahmadi’s traditional paintings hang next door in the Burton D. Morgan gallery.

Sheffield, a visiting instructor of art at Kenyon College and the owner of Unit IV Arts in Gambier, Ohio, will present “Page by Page.” Included in the show are both her sculptural and artist books. Both projects are focused on wordplay and disrupted narrative, as well as “letterform perception, reading comprehension, and how to give tangible form to the poet’s quiet voice.” Her artist’s books are physically dismantled, with the parts then recombined, allowing for a reframing through layers of the structure. The exhibition features several series where text and appropriated images are rearranged within the book, creating coded visual symbols through the poetry. The pieces are technically impressive, and create the sense of an indispensable quality of the relationship between book and poem.

Nettles, Professor Emerita at the University of Illinois, has been exhibiting and publishing her autobiographical works since 1970 and has had more than 50 solo exhibitions. The photography in her exhibit, “Return Trip,” combines landscape images and glimpses of daily routines based on her travels to Italy, Spain, Morocco, Hawaii, North Carolina, Georgia, New Mexico and Florida. The 25 black-and-white photographs represent “the layered and cyclical nature of time, sense of place, and memory,” according to Nettles. Intermittently including portraits throughout her layered photographs, these memories are presented in groups, with four photos included in each piece, which helps to create the depth of the memory.

Ahmadi, a native of Iran now based in Detroit, is showcasing works from her “Throne” series. This exhibition was organized in support of the 2012 Wooster Forum, titled “Complexities of the Middle East,” and features representational watercolors influenced by Persian and Indian miniature painting.

Regardless of the initial sparse feeling of the gallery, the few pieces that are included are heavy in contentious political and religious content. Commenting on the instability in Iran and the mounting uncertainty of tension between aggressive regimes, the beautifully painted pieces contain faceless figures and animals surrounded by pools of blood, offering grenades and nuclear reactors to the enthroned tyrants. Ahmadi says that her loosely spattered and highly layered paintings on aqua-board “create an allegorical realm where faceless tyrants and religious authorities sit on ornate gilded thrones while subservient minions bow to them.”

While the opening receptions for both Sheffield and Nettles’ shows were this past Thursday, the reception for Ahmadi’s show will be Thursday, Nov. 8 from 6:30-8 p.m. in the Burton D. Morgan Gallery, with a talk by the artist at 7 p.m.

All three exhibits will be on view at the museum through Dec. 9.

The College’s museum is located at 1220 Beall Avenue, on the first floor of the Ebert Art Center. The museum is opened Tuesday through Friday from 10:30 a.m. to 4:30 p.m. and Saturday and Sunday from 1-5 p.m.

All receptions, lectures and exhibitions are free and open to the public. For more information visit

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