UC Blue Ash College

Hard & Soft - Art Exhibition

Exhibit Dates

  • March 11 – April 12, 2019
  • Closing Reception on Friday, April 12, 2019 from 5:00 to 7:00 PM

Finding Common Ground Between Hard & Soft

By H. Michael Sanders

  • hard  adj
    • solid, firm, and rigid; not easily broken, bent, or pierced.
  • soft  adj
    • easy to mold, cut, compress, or fold; not hard or firm to the touch
    • having a pleasing quality involving a subtle effect or contrast rather than sharp definition.

While “hard” and “soft” quite reasonably appear to be polar opposites, and in a practical sense are generally considered mutually exclusive ideas, our current exhibition demonstrates many of the ways in which these concepts interact, intersect, and intertwine with one another in the visual realm. In these collected works, we can readily find hard edges in soft materials, soft curves in hard metal, rigid surfaces bearing pliant subject matter, and qualities of immense softness and subtlety infused into firm and unforgiving structures.

The ancient Taoist notions of yin and yang come to mind, in which apparent opposites are revealed to be inextricably interconnected, as in the two sides of the same coin, or darkness and daylight comprising a single day. Carl Jung, deeply influenced by Taoism, introduced into Western thought the principle of enantiodromia, which he defines as “the emergence of the unconscious opposite in the course of time.”* This suggests that we may find, in the extremes of our in our subjective experience of perception, the seeds of complete inversion to a polar opposite; a sort of synaptic magic.

The three artists included in this curated, thematic exhibition are all deeply concerned with materials, surfaces and space, as well as with techniques and ideas, that oscillate between the apparent poles of opposition suggested by the words hard and soft, and they operate within the synaptic gap separating these concepts as visual phenomena.

Denise Burge presents quilt-like fabric constructions bearing imagery projecting the echoes of personal remembrance, as derived from solitary experience. This is seen in the expansive, empty landscapes in which her wispy, idiosyncratic structures are inserted, often in conjunction with incongruent objects, displaced sea creatures or vegetation. The hard, yet quirky lines of her drawing contrast with the soft blurry details of the surrounding environment. Of course, we can’t overlook that these images are finely stitched onto billowy cloth.    

The series of metal, wire and wood sculptural constructions by Connie R. Campbell operate as both containers and definers of space. The open interior regions of these works are as essential to our perception and understanding of them as are the straight and curvilinear lines of the materials. This nebulous space has been actively incorporated into the work itself. In many instances the structures project invisible vectors into the surrounding space in overlapping planes. These define invisible structures for the viewer and function to firmly anchor the object to the ethereal space it occupies.   

Stephanie Serpick has two distinct styles of paintings included in this show. The first are the representational New Fall series of works, depicting the desolate intimacy of empty, rumpled beds that function as metaphors for introspection, loss and grief. Her other work, abstractions from the Circle the Square series, explores the contrast between sharply defined shapes and figures and the nebulous wavelike surfaces that invade the canvas space.

In assembling this show, we observed many levels of intense interaction among the works, and experienced, through our own interaction with these varied objects, the “synaptic magic” of the hard and soft oscillation. Perhaps, in the end, it all comes down to the simple notion that the artworks, whatever their characteristics, are the hard in the equation; and that we, the brash yet subtle spectators, are the soft components of the aesthetic exchange (and all that that implies).

*Carl Jung. Psychological Types. Zurich: Rascher Verlag, 1921. Reprint edition, The Collected Works of Carl Jung, Vol. 8: Structure and Dynamic of the Psyche. Princeton, NJ: Princeton University Press, 1969.


Contact Information

Phone: 513-936-1712
Email: bagaller@ucmail.uc.edu