The blog of the John S. and James L. Knight Foundation

Jun 07, 2013

Charles Searles: In Motion at the Tyler School of Art enters final week

Posted by Valerie Nahmad

By Susanna Gold, Tyler School of Art at Temple University Photo by Sam Fritch

Charles Searles: In Motion,  the graduate student-curated exhibition at the Tyler School of Art, Temple University, is still going strong, and as been receiving lots of attention lately with recent reviews in the Philadelphia Inquirertheartblog, and the Tyler Student Life blog, just to name a few.  The last day to see the exhibition is Sunday, June 16.

“Moondance” 2003, acrylic on wood, 99” x 48” x 8” “Moondance” 2003, acrylic on wood, 99” x 48” x 8”

Underlying impulses of continual movement and transformation, both stylistic and conceptual, permeate the dynamic and intensely colorful large-scale paintings and sculptures.  The inherent energy and activity of Searles’ urban surroundings; his stylistic progression from naturalism toward gesture and abstraction; the nuances of his thinking and working processes; and his transitions among media find expression in the palpable rhythms of music and dance, and the vivid colors and lively patterns inspired by the cultural traditions of Searles’ African heritage.

“Three Soul Visitors,” 1977, acrylic on canvas, 58” x 72” “Three Soul Visitors,” 1977, acrylic on canvas, 58” x 72”

The Impulse Trio from the Boyer College of Music & Dance performed jazz in the midst of the works at the April 20 exhibition opening, providing an important context for viewing the art since Searles, himself a musician, listened to jazz everyday in his studio while he worked.  Visitors engaged with the work by walking through and around the sculptures that shared their floor space, encouraging an intimate viewing experience.   Overheard at the opening was the comment that Searles’ works looked like “Picasso meets Dr. Seuss” – I think Searles would have been proud to have connected with his audiences in this way, with a blend of intellectual Modernism and light-hearted pleasure!

“Freedom’s Gate II” 1990, acrylic on wood, 109” x 74” x 24” “Freedom’s Gate II” 1990, acrylic on wood, 109” x 74” x 24”

The exhibition catalog, covering both the Tyler exhibition and its recently closed partner exhibition, Charles Searles: The Mask of Abstraction, at the La Salle University Art Museum is hot off the presses!  This beautifully illustrated 228-page catalog features several essays offering fresh perspectives on the artist.  You can order your own by clicking here.

CatImage CatImage copy Charles Searles: In Motion was developed in an Exhibition Studies seminar under the direction of Susanna Gold, Assistant Professor of Art History. MA, MEd, and PhD students Alicia Bonilla-Puig, Alexander Cohn, Louise Feder, Elise Houck, Rachel McCay, Nicole Restaino, William Schwaller, and James Short were involved in all curatorial, creative, and scholarly decisions.

The Tyler School of Art is located on the Main campus of Temple University at 12th and Norris Streets. Hours are 6:30 a.m.-10:30 p.m., daily. Free and open to the public, with ID.

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