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Skuodas finds the violin shape "so evocatively cohesive." Drawings in the violin shape fill one of her books.



Audra Skuodas: Turning Pathos into Ethos

By Marci Janas


Skoudas believes that "the hand choreographs our humanity."


A Sampling of Works from Evocations and Forgotten Places

OCTOBER 1, 1999--Evocations and Forgotten Places, an exhibition of new paintings by Audra Skuodas, visiting assistant professor of art, opens Sunday, October 3, in Fisher Hall. From then until the show's closing on October 24, receptive visitors will find themselves in a place--to quote from one of Skuodas's workbooks--of "tremor and reverberation."

Persons familiar with this artist's career will find the female subject of one of the works a startling contrast to its stylized, angular antecedents. A photograph Skuodas saw in Time Magazine inspired the piece. Depicted was a young woman in Sierra Leone whose hands had been cut off by some of the men in her village.

When she saw the photograph, "I burst out sobbing," Skuodas says. "I could not believe that these men were laughing while they were doing this to this beautiful child. How could I just go and work? I had to do a painting of it."

The image of the girl, suffering but gently stoic, her handless arms held aloft--a gesture, almost, of benediction--her assailants in the background--was a necessary but painful creative task for an artist who believes that "the hand choreographs our humanity." The painting exists as a quietly resounding reproach to the obverse of Skuodas's article of faith: Hands also choreograph cruelty.

The "forgotten place" in the title of Skuodas's show is the contemplative place. Forget where that is, and what is forgotten or lost is humanity and sensitivity, a receptivity to the mysterious and life giving, to what is tremulous, and to what reverberates with the music of the soul.

Earlier works by Skuodas convey the music of the soul by referencing the violin shape, which she finds "so evocatively cohesive. Not only does it have the female organic formulation, but the way one approaches playing the violin--the sensitivity one has to bring to bear to nuance the tone, the gentleness of touch . . . it all has to do with vibrational quality." For Skuodas, work is the reverberation of thought.

She speaks about the physical laws that define a face, a snowflake, a seashell. Limits and borders are also recurring themes in her work. "We've lost cognizance," she says, "--in our attitude of 'do your own thing'--of the limits within the spirit." She believes that one's conscience is linked to these limits and, in a sense, linked "with the circumscribed laws of the cosmos."

Skuodas says she often jokes that her work--her "message to the world"--is about "seeking the unified field theory of humanity." But she's also serious.

"I don't want to presume that I'm capable of doing it. But I'm certainly seeking for myself to comprehend how it is possible--if there could be another way for human beings to access life so we don't find ourselves in the predicaments we find ourselves in."

Skuodas often jokes that her work is about "seeking a unified field theory of humanity."





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