Elemental art 

Peg Fierke and Robert Eagerton: MICRO/MACRO
Ruschman Art Gallery
Through Feb. 23

In tandem with the Indiana State Museum exhibition Evolving Imagery, Ruschman Art Gallery offers another view of the work of Peg Fierke and Robert Eagerton in the exhibition MICRO/MACRO. The ISM exhibition (see NUVO’s review, Dec. 5, 2007), which continues through March 16, is one of the most contemplative and quietly provocative contemporary shows featuring Indiana artists in the museum’s recent history. The Ruschman exhibition, while on a smaller scale, offers a fine complement, also allowing for an easy appreciation of these artists’ methods and thought processes.

Both longtime professors at Herron School of Art who have made careers from their own artmaking as well, Fierke and Eagerton, who taught at Herron for roughly 40 years apiece, are represented in permanent collections throughout the U.S. and have participated in numerous shows beyond. Eagerton co-founded Transfiguration Press in Sarasota, Fla., specializing in hand-drawn lithographs, etchings and fine art photography — one of the first shops to do so. Fierke has also worked outside the confines of academia, having developed interdisciplinary classes in philosophy and physiology and teaching in New York City, Europe, British Columbia and Ireland.

From the more classic Eagerton painting “Edge of Darkness” to the highly meditative “Midnight Circle,” which, like much of Eagerton’s recent work, speaks to Eastern spirituality, Eagerton’s print and photography-enhanced images are at once simmering and quiet: You can imagine the artist in his studio, selecting pigments and pulling prints as a kind of meditation, the use of electronic devices not being contradictory.

Images such as owls, butterflies, crows, elephants, fish and birds are sacred objects, juxtaposed with the tools of their own trade: Trees and twigs, water and sky — even fire plays its elemental role, with calligraphic brushstrokes adding yet another layer. Fierke’s repetitive imagery also gives it iconic status, expanding rather than reducing the images that she focuses on — from a swarm of eyes or dog snouts to the intricacy of an animal’s skull or ribcage, its structure forming the basis of a composition — so that it is at once abstracted and revered.

MICRO/MACRO, paintings, drawings and prints by Peg Fierke and Robert Eagerton, is on view through Feb. 23 at Ruschman Art Gallery, 948 Alabama St. Call 317-634-3114 for hours and information or visit www.ruschmangallery.com.

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