Museum Exhibition Examines Violence and its Depiction in the Arts: Catalogue Awarded National Foundation Grant

NEW PALTZ — Selected images from the exhibition are available online at Samuel Dorsky Museum of Art presents a group exhibition titled In Cold Blood, August 13 to September 23, 2001 at the State University of New York at New Paltz. The exhibition features work by artists who examine violence and explore the fine lines that exist between provocation and documentation, celebration and critique. It is organized by SDMA Curator of Exhibitions Nadine Wasserman to complement the 2001 Arts Now Conference “Sites of Conflict: Art in a Culture of Violence,” which will occur at SUNY New Paltz September 20-22. The exhibition has been awarded grants from the Elizabeth Firestone Graham Foundation and the SUNY New Paltz Foundation.

In Cold Blood is intended to engage the regional community in a consideration of the role of violence in society and its depiction in the arts. Violent imagery is found throughout history and in many cultures. It is used for religious devotion, historical depiction, and pure entertainment. With the advance of technology, this imagery has become more pervasive and readily available. Yet it continues to provoke debate, particularly as it relates to antisocial behavior. While there is evidence to support the negative effects of violent imagery, there are equally compelling reasons why it may be useful in understanding the nature of violence in sport, ritual, and art. In Cold Blood approaches this debate with respect to both positions, offering an opportunity to explore the causes and effects of violence through metaphorical or veiled imagery.

“The works comprising In Cold Blood are unsettling because they are suggestive rather than merely graphic, representing violent events and themes in a way that requires the viewer’s engagement,” Wasserman said. “They present the complexity of the topic rather than offering easy solutions. Upon examination, the issues that emerge are the importance of empathy and responsibility, the necessity of testimony, the impact of graphic imagery, the roles of aesthetics and spectacle, and the consequences of desensitization.”

Included in the exhibition are the works of painters Leslie Wayne and Kojo Griffin; multimedia artists Robert Beck, Willie Doherty, Rico Gatson, Kendell Geers, Gregory Green, Alfredo Jaar, Bradley McCallum, and Jacqueline Tarry; and photographers Lucinda Devlin and Bülent Sangar.

A companion catalogue to In Cold Blood will be published thanks to the generous support of the Elizabeth Firestone Graham Foundation. The forthcoming catalogue, which will be distributed to colleges and universities, art museums, nonprofit arts organizations, Arts Now conference participants, and members of the campus community, will include artists’ statements, images, an exhibition checklist, and brief biographical information.

Furthermore, the content of the exhibition has helped shape the Student Art Alliance’s fall Art Lecture Series. Selected artists represented in the show have been invited to present lectures and slide presentations of their work as part of the weekly series. These include Kojo Griffin (September 5), Rico Gatson (September 12), and Alfredo Jaar (September 19). These lectures begin at 7:30 p.m. in Lecture Center 112 on the SUNY New Paltz campus. They are free and open to all.

A reception will be held on Saturday, September 22 to mark the closing of In Cold Blood and other exhibitions linked to the 2001 Arts Now conference. It begins at 5:30 p.m. in the lobby of Sojourner Truth Library.

The Samuel Dorsky Museum of Art is open Wednesday – Friday, 11:30- 4 p.m. and Saturdays and Sundays, 1-4 p.m. Additional information about this and other exhibitions is available on the museum Web site,, or by calling 845-257-3844.

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Note to Editors: The following information provides additional background on various aspects of the exhibition. Please contact David Cavallaro for images to accompany your article or review and for artists’ biographies. Selected images are available online at

The Elizabeth Firestone Graham Foundation is dedicated to fostering awareness and appreciation of contemporary visual art, particularly through catalogues and other publications that document art produced by emerging or under-recognized artists. The Foundation is also interested in projects that attempt to bring together artists and the community and in efforts to provide exposure to contemporary art where it may not otherwise be seen.

Sites of Conflict: Art in a Culture of Violence, the third of five planned biennial Arts Now Conferences, is scheduled for September 20-22, 2001. Conceived with an objective to explore issues of contemporary art and culture, each conference provides a reflective occasion to look at timely issues in the arts and contemporary culture through an interdisciplinary lens. Like its predecessors, “Sites of Conflict: Art in a Culture of Violence” includes featured presentations and conversations by noted authors, artists and scholars; papers and other contributions selected from a national call for proposals; and exhibitions and performances.

Keynote presentations by playwright Anna Deavere Smith, author and historian Michael Bellisiles, poet Carolyn Forché, and Holocaust scholar James E. Young are augmented by performances including Marisol by José Rivera, and Delirium for Two by Eugene Ionesco. Numerous exhibitions and lectures will occur on the SUNY New Paltz campus before and after the conference, effectively promoting a broad dialogue on the subject of violence and the arts.