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Thursday, March 3, 2005 06:14 am

art seen 3-3-05

“Shout” (2000) Inkjet print by Fern Logan

It’s not often that two such eminent photographers as Bea Nettles and Fern Logan show their work in Springfield, let alone collaborate for a unique exhibit that celebrates women. Merge, their joint exhibit at the University of Illinois at Springfield, runs for another week, but today (5:30-7:30 p.m. Thursday, March 3), visitors get the opportunity to hear the two innovative photographers talk about their art at a reception at the UIS Visual Arts Gallery.

Nettles, who has taught photography at the University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign since 1983, is something of a legend in alternative photo processes. She is known for her largely autobiographical black-and-white images, often incorporating text (before the era of Photoshop). Her composite images named “Complex/Ties” deal with issues of being a working mother and balancing making art and teaching with nurturing a family. Text panels accompany each image.

Nettles is also known for her inventive small books, among them her “Seasonal Turns” accordion book, and her clever box of tarot cards bearing her images. A highlight of this show is “28 Days,” a deck of cards in which each day of the month references an aspect of the menstrual cycle. Day 5 is a photo of a cockscomb flower that mimics fallopian tubes. It’s brilliant.

Nettles has received two Illinois Arts Council Fellowships, as well as two prestigious National Endowment for the Arts Fellowships, and has taught at the Penland School in North Carolina for many years.

Fern Logan earned a master of fine arts degree in photography at the School of the Art Institute of Chicago and has taught photography at Southern Illinois University since 1995. Logan is exhibiting elegant digital portraits of African-American women in both color and black-and-white. One of her themes is the hairstyles of African-American women, and she has embellished two of her works with hair. Logan’s piece “Olympia” is a takeoff on Edouard Manet’s famous painting, but this Olympia has brown skin.

 Logan’s portraits have been included in three photography books of African-Americans by noted historian Deborah Willis. Logan has exhibited widely and has received two IAC fellowships, as well as a Yaddo Colony fellowship. In 2001 Logan published The Artist Portrait Series, a collection of portraits of African-American artists.

A reception for photographers Bea Nettles and Fern Logan is held 5:30-7:30 p.m. today, March 3, in the Visual Arts Gallery (in the UIS Health & Sciences Building).

The event features a performance by poet and UIS professor Marcellus Leonard and a song by UIS alum Denise Yates. Merge, a joint exhibit by Nettles and Logan, continues through Thursday, March 10, in the Visual Arts Gallery. Gallery hours are 11 a.m.-6 p.m. Monday through Thursday. For more information, call 216-206-6506.

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