Contemporary Artist Lesley Dill’s “Poetic Visions” opens at the Jordan Schnitzer Museum of Art

EUGENE, Ore. -- (August 29, 2012) – The special exhibition “Lesley Dill’s Poetic Visions: From Shimmer to Sister Gertrude Morgan” opens at the Jordan Schnitzer Museum of Art on the University of Oregon campus on September 29 and will be on view through December 9, 2012.


An array of programs complement “Poetic Visions,” including an artist talk by Dill on Thursday, September 27, at 6 p.m. in 177 Lawrence Hall and a free, public opening at the JSMA on Friday, September 28, from 6 – 8 p.m.


Lesley Dill is one of the most prominent contemporary American artists working at the intersection of language and fine art.  Experimenting with a wide range of tactile materials, she fuses poetic text and images to create evocative, mixed-media artworks and performances. Inspired by her two-year sojourn in India and the illuminating aspects of diverse faith traditions, Dill interprets relationships between the physical and the spiritual.  Her expressive artworks, layered with multiple meanings, also reference nature and human identity.


This exhibition features two bodies of the artist’s work. “HELL HELL HELL/HEAVEN HEAVEN HEAVEN: Encountering Sister Gertrude Morgan and Revelation” is inspired by the life of an influential New Orleans missionary, artist, and musician. Dill connected with Morgan’s artistry, particularly her integration of text and image, and her strength as a leader and woman of firm convictions. The artist conceives of her installation as a theatrical stage set. Two lavish gowns represent stages of the missionary’s life: before and after she became the “bride of Christ.” The dresses are surrounded by heroically scaled drawings that reflect Morgan’s frenetic, passionate preaching style and text by Morgan as well as one of Dill’s favorite poets, Emily Dickinson.


The second body of work features “Shimmer,” a 60 foot “curtain” composed of 2,190,000 feet of fine wire that forms a silvery cascade, suggesting the dazzling reflections of light off the Atlantic Ocean. This waterfall-like wall piece descends from a fragment of a mystical poem by the Catalan poet Salvador Espriu.  Also, shown as part of this installation are five “Allegorical Figures.”  Costumed in glistening metal foil, organza, and wire, “each figure presents an existential conundrum,” according to the artist. Referencing the elements as well as mythological figures in art history, they carry language that situates the viewer in the present and invites deeper interpretation.


“Lesley Dill is an artist alchemist,” says JSMA executive director Jill Hartz. “She aims to create an environment within the gallery in which visitors encounter or connect with a spiritual self or place through a very specifically created form and selection of words.  Paradoxically, she uses language to go beyond language, form to find formlessness. And she does it with powerfully beautiful artworks.”


Lesley Dill was born in Bronxville, New York, and raised in Maine. After graduating from Trinity College with a degree in English, she received her master of arts in teaching from Smith College in 1974, and her master of fine arts from the Maryland Institute College of Art in 1980. The artist soon moved to New York, where she emerged prominently as a sculptor and multi-media artist. Dill has also made significant contributions as a performance artist, and aspects of theater inform the pieces exhibited in this exhibition. Nationally recognized, Dill has shown her work in numerous solo exhibitions across the country. Her artworks are in the collections of over fifty museums, including the Metropolitan Museum of Art, the Museum of Modern Art, and the Whitney Museum of American Art in New York. The artist lives and works in Brooklyn, New York. She is represented by the Arthur Rogers Gallery in New Orleans and the George Adams Gallery in New York City.


The exhibition is organized by Barbara Matilsky, curator, Whatcom Museum, Washington, and made possible at the JSMA by the Coeta and Donald Barker Changing Exhibitions Endowment Fund and JSMA members.




Artist’s Talk

Thursday, September 27, 6 p.m.

177 Lawrence Hall

Cosponsored by the UO Department of Art


Opening Reception

Friday, September 28, 6–8 p.m.


Panel: Poetic Visions

Wednesday, October 17, 5:30 p.m.

Deb Casey (poet); Maggie Evans, doctoral candidate in English; and Tres Pyle, Associate Professor of English, moderated by Karen J. Ford, Professor of English,  look at Lesley Dill’s work through the lens of poetry. Cosponsored by the Department of Comparative Literature and the Department of English


Panel: Religious Visions

Wednesday, October 24, 5:30 p.m.

Lisa Freinkel, Associate Professor of English and Comparative Literature; Daniel Falk, Associate Professor of Religious Studies; and Mark Unno, Associate Professor of Religious Studies, explore Dill's art through the lens of world religions. Cosponsored by the Department of Religious Studies


TARDIS Ensemble Concert: Poetic Visions

Sunday, October 28, 2 p.m.

This chamber music collective, founded in 2011, engages audiences through thematic programs that explore distinct time periods, countries, or genres: Sophia Tegart, flute; Catherine Lee, oboe; Helena Spencer, bassoon; Casey Bozell and Holland Phillips, violins; Clark Spencer, viola; and Valdine Ritchie Mishkin, cello. Baritone soloist Aaron Cain joins the Ensemble in a program inspired by Dill’s interactions with poetry and multimedia.  Cosponsored by the Department of Religious Studies


Word Play Family Day

Saturday, December 1, 11 a.m.–3 p.m.

Celebrate the holiday season at the art museum! Come explore the world of comics and art inspired by writing. Art activities for kids of all ages include projects based on the work of contemporary artist Lesley Dill, PEANUTS’ Charles Schulz, and guest artist Jan Eliot, creator of “Stone Soup.” Be sure to take time to make your own shadow puppet. Light refreshments and holiday entertainment will also be a part of this magical day. Cosponsored by the Confucius Institute



About the Jordan Schnitzer Museum of Art

The University of Oregon's Jordan Schnitzer Museum of Art is a premier Pacific Northwest museum for exhibitions and collections of historic and contemporary art based in a major university setting. The mission of the museum is to enhance the University of Oregon’s academic mission and to further the appreciation and enjoyment of the visual arts for the general public.  The JSMA features significant collections galleries devoted to art from China, Japan, Korea, America and elsewhere as well as changing special exhibition galleries.  The JSMA is one of six museums in Oregon accredited by the American Association of Museums.


The Jordan Schnitzer Museum of Art is located on the University of Oregon campus at 1430 Johnson Lane. Museum hours are 11 a.m. to 8 p.m. Wednesdays, and 11 a.m. to 5 p.m. Tuesdays and Thursdays through Sundays. Admission is $5 for adults and $3 for senior citizens. Free admission is given to ages 18 and under, JSMA members, college students with ID, and University of Oregon faculty, staff and students. For information, contact the JSMA, 541-346-3027.


About the University of Oregon

The University of Oregon is among the 108 institutions chosen from 4,633 U.S. universities for top-tier designation of "Very High Research Activity" in the 2010 Carnegie Classification of Institutions of Higher Education. The UO also is one of two Pacific Northwest members of the Association of American Universities.


Contact: Debbie Williamson Smith, 541-346-0942,


Link: Jordan Schnitzer Museum of Art,