Kittredge Gallery Presents Artists Marita Dingus and Sarah Gilbert

September 2, 2014

Aug. 25–Sept. 27, 2014.
Opening Reception: Aug. 27, 5 to 7 p.m.

.Kittredge Gallery reopens at the end of August with exhibitions of mixed-media sculpture and glass. The Large Gallery will feature work by artist Marita Dingus, an exhibition being held in conjunction with Puget Sound’s Race and Pedagogy National Conference in late September.

Dingus uses found objects and discarded materials to “reuse them for a greater purpose,” she says. Her work references her African-American heritage and addresses complex issues and histories. Her use of cast-off items comments on the tragedy of deeming some human lives worthless, historically through enslavement and presently through other forms of detainment and imprisonment. They Still Hold Us refers to the persistence of invisible forces that contain and restrict, in Dingus’ words, “people of color from prospering.”

She cites social and political “fences” and “shackles,” such as the prison system, biased law enforcement that leads to the deaths of a disproportionate number of people of color, and environmental injustice issues that affect the poor domestically and on a global scale. The works on view at Kittredge Gallery are primarily from her Fence series and, though made of fragile materials, are complex tangles of objects and meanings that can ensnare and hold both literally and figuratively.

Marita Dingus received her B.F.A. from Tyler School of Art at Temple University in Philadelphia, and her M.F.A. from San Jose State University. Honors and awards include a Visual Art Fellowship from Artist Trust, a John S. Guggenheim Fellowship, and the Morrie and Joan Alhadeff PONCHO Artist of the Year Award. Dingus has had solo shows at Henie Onstad Kunstsenter and The Stenersen Museum, both in Norway, and Museum of Glass in Tacoma. Most recently her work was on view in Marita Dingus: Fashion Free-For-All at the Northwest African American Museum.

Her work also has been included in a number of group showings, including Nature/Culture, organized by The Society for Contemporary Craft in Pittsburgh, in 2006; the Outwin Boochever Portrait Competition at the National Portrait Gallery in Washington, D.C., in 2007; and 21st Century American Women Artists at the Residence of the United States Ambassador to NATO in Brussels, Belgium, from 2006 to 2010. Her work is in many regional museums and corporate collections. She is represented by Traver Gallery and Facèré Jewelry Art Gallery, both in Seattle.

Sarah Gilbert’s exhibition in the Small Gallery is a new body of work supported by funding from the Tacoma Arts Initiative. As Gilbert notes in her statement: “This body of work is the beginning of what will be a long exploration into what makes a place feel like home. The further I look into this concept the more I realize I have just begun to explore the possibilities. I consider both places—Rochester, N.Y., and Tacoma, Wash.—my home, but through making this work I want to explore what it is that makes you connect with a place. I have traveled to other places and lived in other cities but I feel at home in both of these cities—there is something about both places that is comforting. As I move through each city, Rochester and Tacoma, in my daily life, I see so many similarities.”

Sarah Gilbert is a glass artist and head technician at Museum of Glass, Tacoma. She earned a B.F.A. in glass and sculpture from Rochester Institute of Technology in 2005. This year she was a nominee for the Greater Tacoma Community Foundation’s annual Foundation of Art Award. In the Museum of Glass Hot Shop, she maintains and repairs all glass-working equipment and supports world-renowned visiting artists.

In her own work, Gilbert has been using glass as her primary medium for the last 13 years. Her new works in 3000 Miles from Home combine her skills with glass, metal, and illustration. She notes about her process:

“To get the imagery in the piece, I am using a technique called cameo engraving. Before photography cameo engraving on glass or shell was a traditional alternative to painting in order to capture a person's likeness in an object that could either be worn or displayed. It is a time-consuming process that not only demands a considerable amount of practice to execute, but a devotion to the subject matter in order to capture its true likeness. This process has proven specifically appropriate for me to make this work because of the history behind the process and because the time put into each piece turns into almost a meditation on the subject. I enjoy the process of making and how the physicality of the process can leave distinct marks from the maker. These marks make each work individual and unique in their own right.”

Gallery talks with the artists will be scheduled during the run of the exhibition and posted on the Puget Sound website, as well as the gallery’s Web page and Facebook page (see below).

A reception for both exhibitions will be held on Wednesday, Aug. 27, from 5 to 7 p.m., in the gallery. This reception is free and open to the public.

Kittredge Gallery serves as a teaching tool for the art department and a cultural resource for both the university and the community at large, exhibiting work by noted regional and national artists. Exhibits and talks are free and open to the public.

Opening Reception: Aug. 27, 5 to 7 p.m., Kittredge Gallery

Gallery Location: University of Puget Sound, N. 15th St. at N. Lawrence St., Tacoma, WA
Directions and Map:
Regular Hours: 10 a.m.–5 p.m., Mon.–Fri.; noon–5 p.m., Saturday

PRESS PHOTOS are available at
Photos on page: Top right and top left: Marita Dingus, Skeleton Fence and Leaf Fence; Above right and above left: Sarah Gilbert, George and Steve.