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ST. BONAVENTURE, N.Y. — A St. Bonaventure University art professor's art series has been well-traveled since appearing in an exhibition in Japan in 2010.
"Will You Be There," a series of art works by Constance Pierce, associate professor of painting and drawing in the Department of Visual and Performing Arts at St. Bonaventure, was originally displayed in the international exhibition “Art on Paper 2010” at the Museum of Art in Aichi, Japan.
The series has since been featured in three solo exhibitions by the artist. The exhibitions were hosted by the Harlan Gallery of Seton Hill University of Pennsylvania, the Clara Fritzche Gallery of Notre Dame College in Ohio, and the Front Gallery of the Quick Center for the Arts at St. Bonaventure University.
The images are allegorical and were inspired by the spoken epilogue of a musical composition (of the same title) by the late performer, composer and humanitarian Michael Joseph Jackson, whose innovative music will be honored internationally on Saturday, the second anniversary of his death.
In May, Pierce offered a conference presentation regarding the ways Jackson's art and humanitarian message have informed and inspired her own visual imaging making and her life. Pierce's paper titled “Lacrymae Rerum: Gestures of Transcendence” was presented at the 16th Annual Fine Arts and Aesthetics Conference hosted by the International Institute of Phenomenology and held on the campus of Harvard University in Boston. Her drawing series was featured in the conference presentation.
The artist says of her work, “The prescient lyrics of this piece call to mind the essence of several Old Testament psalms, because they depict the soul crying out to the Divine for intercession. The lamentations in Jackson’s composition express a deep longing for rescue from the tribulations of a world savaged by war, poverty and other cruel sufferings. I wanted the images in my series to embody the emotional tenor of Jackson’s extraordinary piece. His words give voice to the voiceless and the marginalized in our global culture, and prompt questions on issues of faith, tolerance, and the atrocities of war.”
Pierce's art is included in the permanent collections of the National Museum of Women in the Arts, the Archives of American Art of the Smithsonian Institution, the Rare Books Library of the National Gallery of Art, all in Washington, D.C.; and the Yale Center for British Art's Print and Drawing sketchbook archives, among other public and private collections.
Pierce noted that excerpts from her conference paper regarding Jackson were included in a recent book by writer Joseph Vogel titled "Earth Song: Inside Michael Jackson's Magnum Opus," which she described as "an exegesis on the artistry and humanitarian message inherent in Jackson's iconic work."
Vogel's scholarly research at the University of Rochester centers on 18th century artist William Blake, but he is also an expert on music and popular culture and writes for the Huffington Post.
"I am honored to be quoted in this literary piece," said Pierce. "I appreciate the quality of Vogel's research and his special insight in positioning Jackson among some of the most prophetic and innovative artists of all time."