Furness expresses artistic vision in the classroom and through works in multiple galleries

July 16, 2013

Work by College of Arts & Media Assistant Professor of Art, Painting and Drawing Melissa Furness was highlighted, among work by other artists in July’s edition of 5280 magazine. The article noted pieces on display at Denver’s Plus Gallery, 2501 Larimer.

A solo show of new work by Furness already is scheduled to be on display at Plus Gallery in January.

Melissa FurnessAs a working artist, Furness brings her vision to the classroom. “When I first came to CU Denver, I had the opportunity to work with other painting and drawing faculty to transform the curriculum in many positive ways. There are several courses that I feel very strongly tie into my professional work in painting and drawing, including a course that I designed called Painting, Drawing and the Printed Image (FINE 3300),” Furness said.

“I have always been fascinated by the illusionary space and color of painting, as well as what one can do to play with surface and the optical nature of materials. There are all passions of mine that I work to inspire students with, encouraging them to play with space and explore the history of painting and how one can transform it into a unique contemporary vision.”

New ‘Ruins’ exhibit schedule to open
Later this summer, a solo exhibit of nine of Furness’ large-scale works — Sticks and stones – will hang at Three Link Gallery, Smithville, Mo., Aug 10 to Sept 28. In these pieces, Furness explores the paradox of ruins and the narrative self through complex, multi-layered works that expand out into the viewer’s space.

“There is a fascinating paradox that occurs when confronted with ruins,” Furness notes. Our thinking must split into two paths–one that leads us backward in time and another that travels forward, but these paths must be wandered upon simultaneously. The result may then be the creation of a complex alternative present.”

This new exhibition works to build a personal narrative through an environment constructed of past histories, transforming the epic public narrative of the past into a private dialog of individual struggle in the present. Sticks and stones leads us through contrasting and parallel paths of time, place and identity as we simultaneously observe the shades of grey in Technicolor. Paintings and objects combine to offer a source for the viewer to confront fragmented structures of past wonders and reinvent them as futurescapes within their own imagination, creating a dialog between what is known and unknown.

Furness’ depictions of ruins and swimmers create a haunting homage for Smithville’s own history of regular flooding along the Missouri River. The complex layering of the artist’s vast spaces and swimming figures form a suggested narrative of the individual struggle for future dreams and search for lost memories. In this way, our imaginations reshape the artist’s constructed spaces into our own personal sense of place and the dialog surrounding it.

“We travel, perhaps great distances, to view the fragmented structures of past wonders, searching out a sense of our own identity in relation to time, perhaps recalling some Romantic notion of picturesque decline. We work to reconnect ourselves with nature, with the earth. At the same time, we must reinvent these fragments that stand physically before us, searching out an imagined past which leads us into an invented future. Ruins point us toward a distorted world in which even what is now new will outlive us in some form of odd decay for other generations to translate.”