"Re-Imagining Ireland: Irish Art Today"
Exhibition Opens April 12

On Saturday, April 12, the University of Virginia Art Museum, Charlottesville, will open the special exhibition Re-Imagining Ireland: Irish Art Today. Jointly planned with the Virginia Foundation for the Humanities (VFH) in conjunction with its major international conference, Re-Imagining Ireland (May 7-10; www.re-imagining-ireland.org), the exhibition will be on view through June 8. Curated by museum director Jill Hartz and Charlottesville-based sculptor Susan Bacik, Irish Art Today presents artistically and politically challenging works in a range of media by artists living and working in the Republic of Ireland and Northern Ireland. The paintings, sculpture, photographs, prints, mixed media, and video works are drawn primarily from the collection of the Irish Museum of Modern Art (IMMA), with additional loans from Dublin galleries, artists, and private collectors.

Pieces featured in the show by such internationally known artists as Dorothy Cross, Willie Doherty, Alice Maher, Paul Seawright, and Kathy Prendergast span the distance between the political and personal, often addressing the human consequences and adjustments in outlook that have, in the last ten years, accompanied Ireland’s extraordinarily rapid economic growth and related social change. A complete roster of artists follows: Dorothy Cross, Shane Cullen, Willie Doherty, Mary Donnelly, Francis Mark, Brian Kennedy, John Kindness, Mary Lohan, Alice Maher, Caroline McCarthy, Janet Mullarney, Fionnuala Ni Chiosáin, Sydney Nolan, Paul Nugent, Eilis O’Connell, Geraldine O’Reilly, Michael O’Sullivan, Kathy Prendergast, and Paul Seawright.

One of the major highlights of the exhibition is Shane Cullen’s text-based Fragments sur les Institutions Republicain IV, an installation that re-presents the transcriptions of actual communiqués smuggled out of the Maze Prison during the hunger strike of the 1980s (the originals are now in the collection of the National Library of Ireland). In contrast to the tiny originals, Fragments is monumental in scale and intensely political, yet they also contains intimate details from prisoners’ personal lives. This will be the premiere showing of the work on this side of the Atlantic.

Reflecting themes addressed in the VFH conference, the exhibition speaks to the tensions between tradition and modernity and demonstrates how the former may be incorporated in a new sense of identity that is open to – while questioning the meanings of and thereby shaping – change. The exhibition will provide an exciting entry point to the international contemporary art scene, connecting what is happening in art with a culture to which many Americans trace their roots, while offering challenging perspectives on issues with which we are all vitally concerned.

Accompanying the exhibition is a full-color catalogue with essays by the curators and Declan McGonagle, director of the Dublin City Arts Centre and past IMMA director. Catherine Marshall, IMMA’s director of collections, provided biographies of the artists, and, with Mr. McGonagle, assisted the curators throughout the organization of the exhibition.



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Two Gallery Talks are planned in conjunction with the exhibition. On Sunday, April 13, at 2:00 p.m., the public is invited to tour the exhibition with exhibition curators Jill Hartz and Susan Bacik.

On Friday, May 9, at 2:30 p.m. Mr. McGonagle and Ms. Marshall will discuss the state of Irish art. This event, part of the VFH conference, will be held in the museum and is open to the public. A reception follows.

The VFH conference will bring to Charlottesville more than 100 writers, politicians, journalists, citizen activists, and performers, most from Ireland. The conference will focus on both Ireland and Northern Ireland, addressing issues of local change in a global context. The program will explore the transforming effects of global economics on traditional cultures, the worldwide migration and interaction of national populations, and the relation of religious and political identity to issues of terrorism, war and peace. Other arts events presented as part of the VFH program include a play, film screenings, poetry readings, and a variety musical events. Please see the conference website at: www.re-imagining-ireland.org

"Re-Imagining Ireland: Irish Art Today" has received generous funding from the Virginia Foundation for the Humanities; the Cultural Relations Committee of Ireland; Department of Arts, Sport and Tourism, Dublin; Anne Lee Ueltschi Foundation; the FUNd at the Charlottesville-Albemarle Community Foundation; Irish Museum of Modern Art; Arts Enhancement Fund, Office of the Provost, University of Virginia; Office of the President, University of Virginia; and the Forum for Contemporary Thought, University of Virginia.


The museum is open Tuesday through Sunday, 1 to 5 p.m. Admission is free. Limited parking is available behind the museum. The museum is handicap accessible. For details about the exhibit and information about the museum, call (434) 924-3592.

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