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Emergency Room Exhibition Archive
Department of Visual and Dramatic Arts

The Emergency Room is the latest venture by the Department of Visual and Dramatic Arts. This new exhibition space is aimed at better serving the Houston arts community and the arts on the Rice University campus. Visiting emerging artists will develop new exhibitions, give public lectures, and interact with Rice studio arts students.

Emerging artists are an under-served population within the Houston region, and the Emergency Room is an attempt to correct this by presenting the highest quality exhibitions within the context of a serious academic program.

Emergency Room is generously supported by Rice Public Art and the Dean of the School of Humanities. 

Robert Boyd Collection Comics: Works from the collection of Robert Boyd
March 14-April 11, 2013
Exhibition talk and reception: March 14, 7:00 p.m., Sewall Hall

For most of the 20th century, America found its aspirations, fears and daily life reflected in comic strips. From the mid-1960s onward, underground and alternative comics artists have turned comics into a space for personal artistic expression. This exhibit of original comics art, drawn from the collection of Robert Boyd, explores both of these aspects of the art of comics.

WHEN I WAS in high school, I received a Christmas gift that changed my life--The Smithsonian Collection of Newspaper Comics (1977). This book was a collection of comic strips from the 1890s to the 1970s, primarily pre-war comic strips. It helped me realize that “comics” meant something more than Spider-Man punching Doc Octopus. Around the same time, I discovered Walt Kelly’s Pogo in old, beautifully-designed paperbacks that could still be found in used book stores. These old comic strips were rich and diverse, ranging from the working-class comedies of The Bungle Family by Harry Tuttle and Gasoline Alley by Frank King to the Manichaean chiaroscuro of Chester Gould’s Dick Tracy to the elegant minimalism of Ernie Bushmiller’s Fritzi Ritz and The Little King by Otto Soglow. To read these strips was to enter the world of my parents and grandparents. The Smithsonian Collection of Newspaper Strips affected me in the same way that the Anthology of American Folk Music did for a generation of folk enthusiasts in the 50s—it opened a new world to me. 

Exhibition Catalog Poster>> 

Galina Kuralt Galina Kurlat: #19
January 31-March 7, 2013
Artist talk and reception: January 31, 7:00 p.m., Sewall Hall

#19 BY GALINA KURLAT DEPICTS a young woman whose back is turned and neck twists to allow an over-shoulder look. Her arresting gaze stops us where we stand and involves us, unwittingly, in an act of visual transgression. Her back and shoulder show she is nude, putting us in an unpleasant position. Are we voyeuristic elders spying on a modern day Susanna? Her direct address draws us into the logic of the photograph, but in an ambiguous capacity. The intense close-up on her face places us uncomfortably near. Although this could convey intimacy, her expression breeds distance. The more we look, the less we know. 

Exhibition Catalog Poster>> 

Lemu Passages for the UndocumentedMassa Lemu: Passages for the Undocumented
November 1-November 29, 2012
Artist talk and reception: November 1, 7:00 p.m., Sewall Hall

IMAGINE A TYPICAL DAY. You are driving down a major road. As you approach an intersection, you see a common sight: a panhandler stands in the median holding a hand-written sign. You might feel any number of emotions: sadness for the panhandler’s poverty; discomfort at their public display of destitution; compassion for their physical discomfort standing all day under the hot, Texas sun; cynicism about the underlying cause of their reduced state. 

Exhibition Catalog Poster>> 

Mike Beradino Lode RunnerMike Beradino: Lode Runner
September 20-October 18, 2012
Artist talk and reception: September 20, 7:00 p.m., Sewall Hall
OVER THE PAST FIVE YEARS, artist Mike Beradino has developed a complex symbolic language that pairs traditional materials and techniques alongside technological devices and systems more commonly associated with computer programming and video games. Beradino employs a wide range of media in his work. Recurring elements include light sensors, LED displays, and circuit boards; and he frequently utilizes Computerized Numerical Control (CNC) machines and various types of open-source software. Among other things, he has experimented with electromagnets and ferrofluid; and has made ASCII paintings that incorporate augmented reality components, which viewers can see by scanning accompanying QR codes. Throughout his body of work, Beradino explores the connections between the physical environments in which we live, and the ever-expanding virtual world.
Exhibition Catalog Poster>> 

Emily Link ExhibitionEmily Link: Tumulus
April 19-May 13, 2012
Artist talk and reception: April 19, 8:30 p.m., Sewall Hall
In Illo Tempore
This Latin phrase, familiar to those who attend Catholic Mass, is often translated as “Once upon a time…” but translates literally as “in that time”--that “other” time, that time outside of time--the olden days, those golden days--the time of myths and fairy tales, the pre-human era of gods and Titans, Amun-Ra and the Spider Woman, and epic heroes like Gilgamesh, Beouwulf, Lancelot, and the Trickster coyote. But space is implied “in illo tempore” as well--the transcendental space of archetypes and Platonic ideals--and it’s a parallel space, unfolding concurrently, an alternate universe reflecting our own present moment, though in a dimension imperceptible to our limited, fallible human sensory capabilities. This is the space that Emily Link’s work offers viewers a peephole to peer through. This is you. This is your journey--on one level.

Exhibition Catalog Poster>> 

Josh Bernstein Man CornJosh Bernstein: Man Corn
February 2-March 15, 2012
Artist talk and reception: February 2, 7:00 p.m., Sewall Hall

Over the past three years, Josh Bernstein has cultivated a complex symbolic language related to global exploration, outsider status, and the grotesque. Textiles, prints, photography, performance, sculpture, and drawing are all tied together in a web of meanings that are utterly engrossing even as they defy precise explanation. The centerpiece of his exhibition at Emergency Room is a large red sail made from pieces of mens’ shirts with an intricate batik coat of arms showing a doubleheaded eagle attempting to eat itself. The same bicephalous bird appears in two accompanying woodcuts where the print made from wooden block reflects its source and completes the symmetry of the images. At the center of the room is a tent of sorts made from a swirling construction of reeds that supports a carved gourd at its apex. These baroque works are intentionally allusive, yet undeniably visceral with organic textures and colors. The symmetry and repeated shapes of their forms imply a closed circuit of meanings and associations that likewise fold in on themselves in infinite self-reflection. 

Exhibition Catalog Poster>>

Nick BarbeeNick Barbee: Cato
November 29, 2011-January 13, 2012
Artist talk and reception: November 29, 7:00 p.m., Sewall Hall

Liberty or Death: Nick Barbee’s Cato
Nick Barbee’s installation Cato is a concise distillation of the artist’s interest in abstraction. For Barbee, abstraction is not only an artistic process, which is used here to create elegant slender forms mounted on wooden pedestals. Abstract forms can also be physical markers of the evolution of concepts over time and metaphors for historical distortion as each generation inherits ideas, adds their own perspectives and misinterpretations, and reforms the concepts they inherited.
Exhibition Catalog Poster>>

Seth Mittag: We're Still Here...Seth Mittag: We're Still Here...
September 29-October 27, 2011
Artist talk and reception: September 29, 7:00 p.m., Sewall Hall

IT IS FITTING that the inaugural exhibition for a space called the Emergency Room—Rice University’s new singleroom project space for Houston-based emerging artists—would be Seth Mittag’s We’re Still Here… (2010-11), an installation depicting the dramatic aftermath of a tornado. The scene is calamitous. A smaller-than-life-size model of a mobile home is torn asunder and rests precariously in the limbs of a dead tree, with fallen branches and splintered wood from the trailer’s roof and siding littering the ravaged and otherwise barren landscape. 

Exhibition Catalog Poster>>