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Gallery at Penn College Exhibits Colorful Spectacle in Oil Paintings

Oil paintings exploring “a colorful spectacle of a ridiculous world” are in the spotlight for the next exhibit at The Gallery at Penn College, on the third floor of Pennsylvania College of Technology’s Madigan Library.

“Lotus Eaters,” showcasing works by painter Jennifer R.A. Campbell, explores the meeting point of theater and painting in a collection of elaborately staged tableaux that depict enigmatic episodes in the ongoing drama of contemporary life. The exhibit runs Nov. 14 through Dec.14. A Meet the Artist reception is set for 4:30 to 6:30 p.m. Thursday, Nov. 20, featuring a gallery talk at 5:30 p.m.

"Roman Holiday," diptych, 2013, oil on canvas, 50" x 80", by Jennifer R. A. Campbell
“Roman Holiday,” diptych, 2013, oil on canvas, 50″ x 80″, by Jennifer R. A. Campbell

“I am fascinated by storytelling,” writes Campbell. “Humans have created a complex set of symbols and signs, which fill every aspect of our lives with meaning. We tell ourselves and others stories every day in order to create and manage this meaning, and to interpret the world and our place in it. Human interaction is mediated by the use of symbolic language. To tell stories, we must assign meaning to symbols and we must constantly interpret them. In painting, these signs and symbols are uncertain. Without text to stabilize how images are to be interpreted, the meaning is indeterminate and fluid; the image is subject to multiple interpretations. … In my work, I am interested in the process of storytelling and how this transmission of meaning works. My work is a narrative of symbols.”

Set in fictitious landscapes, Campbell’s vignettes involve characters from a range of society, playing various roles. Comedy and tragedy mingle with satire. In contrast, the landscape backdrops are harmonious and well-ordered.

An avid consumer of visual culture, Campbell’s diverse influences include Northern Renaissance art, fashion magazines, contemporary advertisement and film.

A Canadian artist based in Boston, Campbell holds two Bachelor of Arts degrees: one in sociology from Bishop’s University, Quebec, and a second in art history from Carleton University, Ontario. She received formal art training at the Ottawa School of Art.

The Gallery at Penn College is open Sundays, 1 to 4 p.m.; Tuesdays and Thursdays, 2 to 7 p.m.; and Wednesdays and Fridays, 11 a.m. to 5 p.m. The gallery is closed Saturdays and Mondays and will also be closed Nov. 26-30 for the Thanksgiving holiday.

Admission to the gallery is free and open to the public. In addition to serving as an educational resource for Penn College students and a cultural asset to the college and community, the gallery is dedicated to promoting art appreciation through exhibitions of contemporary art.

For more about The Gallery at Penn College, email or call 570-320-2445.

For more about Penn College, which is marking 100 years as an educational institution of national reputation throughout 2014, email the Admissions Office or call toll-free 800-367-9222.

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