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December 14th, 2001
Challenge #4 Culminates the 24th Season of the Fleisher Art Memorial’s Juried Exhibitions in The Dene M. Louchheim Galleries, Feb. 8 Through March 9

The Samuel S. Fleisher Art Memorial will present the final exhibition in the twenty-fourth season of the four-part Challenge Series -- the Delaware Valley’s premier juried artist exhibition program. This season’s twelve Challenge artists were selected from a field of 299 applicants to exhibit in one of four three-person exhibitions. The last of this year’s Challenge Exhibitions features the work of artists Rita Bernstein, Michelle Oosterbaan, and Kendra Wadsworth. Each of the three artists present narratives which allow the viewer to choose how to read the works visually. The exhibition begins on Friday, February 8th with an opening reception from 5:30 to 7:30 p.m., and continues through March 9th. Both the exhibition and the opening reception are free and open to the public. Gallery hours are 11:00 a.m. to 5:00 p.m., Monday through Friday; and (when classes are in session) 6:30 to 9:30 p.m., Monday through Thursday, and 10:00 a.m. to 3:00 p.m., Saturday.

Rita Bernstein presents a series of silver gelatin photographs depicting moments in the lives of children. Bernstein is primarily interested in the invisible parts of a photograph: the boundary between the interior and exterior selves, the collision between our subconscious and conscious thoughts. The human psyche guards its secrets closely, and Bernstein looks everywhere for clues, finding them frequently in the unguarded activities of children. Children practice the subtle and complex dance of social interaction, advancing and retreating, motivated by their needs and constrained by their fears. Bernstein’s favorite pictures speak of moments she vaguely remembers in a language she almost understands. Ms. Bernstein received her B.A. from Barnard College and J.D. from the University of Pennsylvania Law School.

The paintings of Michelle Oosterbaan explore visual expectations and perspectives through the paradox of what is and what is remembered. Oosterbaan uses expanses of strong color to lure the viewer, then floats provocative images on the surface, allowing one to find a personal order out of the seemingly random placement of figurative elements. By moving from the general to the specific, the viewer creates one’s own unfolding narrative of discovery, finding that multiple visions exist within the same reality. Ms. Oosterbaan received her B.F.A. from Washington University, St. Louis, and her M.F.A. from Indiana University, Bloomington.

A bright color palette and spontaneous paint application are hallmarks of Kendra Wadsworth’s painting. Wadsworth seeks to create a psychologically complex texture by pushing patterns and forms above and below the ground of the painting. Some of the visual themes one finds in her work are fertility and procreation, incest and innocence, warfare, relationships, and identity. Ms. Wadsworth received her B.F.A. from Virginia Commonwealth University and her M.F.A. from the University of Pennsylvania.

On Wednesday, February 20th from 5:30 to 6:30 p.m., artist/teacher Mary Murphy will lead the Challenge "TalkAbout" gallery discussion. Bring your own ‘brown bag’ dinner and join us to discuss the work on exhibition. Admission is free.

The Samuel S. Fleisher Art Memorial is best known as the country’s oldest and largest free and low-tuition visual arts program for adults and children. Founded as the Graphic Sketch Club in 1898, Fleisher has been a vital educational resource that includes instruction in the visual arts, exhibitions, concerts, and interpretation of its historic buildings and permanent collection. Fleisher’s programs are supported in part by the Samuel S. Fleisher Trust, and grants from the Commonwealth of Pennsylvania Council on the Arts, the Independence Foundation, the Philadelphia Cultural Fund, and the Philadelphia Cultural Leadership Program funded by the Pew Charitable Trusts.

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