3261 W State St
St Bonaventure, NY 14778
“Figures of Speech,” a new exhibition at the Regina A. Quick Center for the Arts at St. Bonaventure University, came together somewhat by accident.
“It all started with people saying, ‘Gee, it’s too bad you don’t have this out anymore,’ or ‘Whatever happened to that piece?’” said Evelyn Penman, assistant director of the Quick Center.
In order to satisfy this craving of patrons, Penman went to the museum’s vault to retrieve pieces from the University Art Collection that had not been publicly displayed for some time. As this collection of seemingly unconnected items came together, Penman discovered a common thread running through them.
That connection is evident as you walk into the Quick Center’s second-floor Paul E. Beltz Gallery, which houses the exhibition, said Penman. One wall of the gallery is essentially a large collage composed of many individual pieces from the University Art Collection, from ancient Mayan ceramics to 20th century sculptures, photos and icons.
“They come from different times and cultures, yet they are similar in their symbolism,” said Penman. “In a sense, they speak a common language — the representation of complex concepts, actions and ideas, such as love, resurrection, or hope for eternal life.”
The exhibition includes artifacts representing many cultures and religions, said Penman, and the visitor is encouraged to look for recognizable symbols among them, such as the circle, the universal symbol of completeness and eternity.
The opposite wall in the gallery carries the exhibition’s idea of symbols and icons as shortcuts to complex notions to a younger audience, children in grades K-12. It traces the use of symbols and pictures to represent ideas from a time predating the development of alphabetic writing systems right up to the present day.
“It demonstrates that symbols were and continue to be important tools in communicating ideas, whether they’re drawings on a cave wall, immediately identifiable logos used in modern advertising, or emojis and emoticons sent with a text message,” said Penman. “Our symbols are, quite literally, figures of speech.”
The exhibition is ongoing, with no closing date determined at this time.
The Quick Center’s galleries are open to the public year round at no charge. Regular gallery hours are noon to 5 p.m. Monday through Friday and noon to 4 p.m. Saturday and Sunday. For more information visit www.sbu.edu/quickcenter.