December 5, 2009 – March 21, 2010

Perkins Gallery

Abstraction is a challenging concept. Unlike “non-representational” or “non-objective” art, ‘”abstract” art begins with and maintains a connection to nature. Oftentimes, we are so familiar with subjects, particularly natural and man-made elements, we see only banal objects. Through abstraction, one’s attention is focused on the components — the lines, colors, and shapes — that join together to form each subject and image.

Much like the satisfaction of completing a jigsaw puzzle, one can more deeply appreciate a work of art after learning to appreciate each element and the ways in which these elements interact. Artist Ted Waddell shows us cattle in a landscape, not as distinct realist figures but as expressive marks which are part of the landscape; Donald Sultan directs our attention to flowers as shapes in black and white not as a floral bouquet; Henri Matisse draws a face with simple lines expressing what a face is not representing a specific person; sculptor Scott causey shows us a rabbit as a humorous patterned action figure.

This exhibition presents a variety of artwork from the permanent collection that is abstracted from nature in a variety of ways and to different degrees. Each piece challenges you to understand and appreciate the visual language’s expressive potential and variety, not just the final product.


  • Cowles Charitable Trust
  • Dorothy Chao Jenkins
  • Mark & Lynn Hollis
  • Ron and Becky Johnson
  • The Reitzel Foundation
  • BCI Engineers & Scientists
  • Eunice Lee Fuller Fund
  • Summit Consulting, Inc.