University Art Gallery

Current Exhibitions

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September 23 - November 2, 2014

'E' is for Elephants, The Etchings of Edward Gorey

Curated by: James Edwards

Opening reception: AHA! Night, Thursday, October 9, 6-8 pm

Lecture: The Strange World of Edward Gorey by prof. Memory Holloway at 7-8 pm

Rough Cut Screening: The Last Days of Edward Gorey, A Documentary by Christopher Seufert at 8-10 pm

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The University of Massachusetts Dartmouth, College of Visual and Performing Arts (CVPA) proudly invites you to the exhibition, 'E' is for Elephants, The Etchings of Edward Gorey; presenting the personal works of the late great American illustrator and author Edward Gorey (1925-2000). This special exhibition curated for UMass Dartmouth can be seen at the University Art Gallery (Star Store Campus, Downtown New Bedford) between September 23 and November 2, 2014. A large selection of works representing the latter years of Mr. Gorey's career will be on display. Limited edition prints as well as numerous original etching plates will be on view to reveal a "behind the scenes" look at Mr. Gorey's artistic process. Accompanying the art will be an installation composed of the artist's printing press, personal belongings; memorabilia, scholarly ephemera and other objects, as well as a multi-media presentation of photographic still lives documented at his Yarmouth Port, MA residence by CVPA professor and exhibition curator James Edwards.  

A truly prodigious and original artist, Edward St. John Gorey (1925-2000), gave to the world over one hundred published titles, including The Gashlycrumb Tinies, The Doubtful Guest and The Wuggly Ump; Tony award-winning set and costume designs for innumerable theater productions from Cape Cod to Broadway; a remarkable number of illustrations in publications such as The New Yorker and The New York Times, and in books by a wide array of authors from Charles Dickens to Edward Lear, Samuel Beckett, John Updike, Virginia Woolf, H.G. Wells, Florence Heide and many others. His well-known animated credits for the PBS Mystery series have introduced him to millions of television viewers. Gorey's masterful pen and ink illustrations and his ironic, offbeat humor have brought him critical acclaim and an avid following throughout the world. This exhibition presents, at its core, the image of the elephant along side his images of other 'beasts', earthly and fictional alike. Beyond his literary and picture-making pursuits Edward Gorey was deeply invested in the protection of animals large and small and acted upon this passion with the full force of his creative and personal resources. In his will he went so far as to bequeath the ensuing profits from his estate to a vast array of organizations (local to international) to support similar aims in the protection of animal life. The exhibition, 'E' is for Elephants, The Etchings of Edward Gorey aims to extend this legacy while providing access to the private world of one of the most important figures in American literature and the visual arts. While the artist has long had an admiring and devoted public, his work has only rarely been considered in the light of his contribution to the history of art.

"I am a person before I am anything else. I never say I am a writer. I never say I am an artist. I am a person who does those things," stated Edward Gorey. To a question regarding the nature of his imagination, he answered
, "...I haven't the slightest idea why my work has taken the tack it has. I just do what occurs to me - if it occurs to me strong enough." "If something doesn't creep into a drawing that you're not prepared for, you might as well not have drawn it." As evidence of his deep love for animals, when asked, 'What or who is the greatest love of your life?' Gorey answered, "Cats." "Few people seem to notice that a largish part of my stuff is not about human beings. I mean, I've done several books about inanimate objects. But as far as the animals, I just don't think humanity is the ultimate end.

The opening reception will take place on Thursday, October 9th from 6 PM to 8 PM with introductions and comments by Illustration Professor James Edwards of the Department of Visual Design. A lecture by Professor of Art History Dr. Memory Holloway, entitled The Strange World of Edward Gorey is also scheduled to occur on this date at 7 PM. Following Dr. Holloway's presentation will be a rough-cut screening of the new documentary film, The last days of Edward Gorey directed by Cape Cod photographer Christopher Seufert; beginning at 8 PM. These events are free and open to the public.

The University Art Gallery would like to give a very special thanks to The Edward Gorey House (Yarmouth Port, MA): Director, Rick Jones; Assistant Director, Gregory Hischak and Will Nunes. We also thank The Edward Gorey Charitable Trust for their kind generous guidance and access. Additional thanks to thank D. Jordan Berson of The Whaling Museum (New Bedford, MA) as well as New Bedford resident and friend of Edward Gorey, Judith Downey for their loan of materials and for this exhibition.

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