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Professor Creates New Mood with Soaring Spaces

Date: May 21, 2002
By: Kelly Lucyszyn
Phone: (513) 745-5600
Photos by Kelly Lucyszyn
Archive: Profiles

Julie Mitchell uncovers the hidden histories of the soaring spaces and small places inside five English cathedrals in her exhibit now showing at University Hall on East Campus. Julie Mitchell

Mitchell's pieces not only capture the graceful vaulted ceilings and the arched doorways of the cathedrals, but also the emotions of the many congregants who have passed through the spaces over the centuries. In stark black charcoal and vibrant colored paint, Mitchell captures the essence of the joy, pain, prayer, love and hope that lies within each cathedral.

The series was created after Mitchell spent the summer of 1999 in England as part of a fellowship grant from the university. Mitchell, assistant professor of fine arts at Raymond Walters College, headed to England with a "camera and plenty of film," she says. The pieces are renderings from the many photographs she took of Durham, Ely, Peterborough, York Minster and Winchester Cathedrals.

The cathedrals are not Mitchell's first architecturally inspired pieces. "I've always been interested in interiors - domestic usually. I enjoy the work of artists such as Vermeer, Bonnard and Vuillard.

"But the cathedrals are huge spaces - hardly domestic interiors. They are soaring spaces. And before this series, I had been doing little doll houses. I was making little spaces into huge pieces. I decided I wanted to take big spaces and make them into smaller pieces."

"The cathedral pieces are about creating a mood, though. It's not about rendering the architecture exactly," she says. "There are extremes of dark and light. It is about creating an atmosphere with light and shadow. It is romantic and also a little disturbing. The charcoal pieces especially. Dark shadows make the viewer wonder just what is missing, what history lies in those shadows, what happened there hundreds of years ago," she says.

"The cathedrals were these thriving places, cherished by communities, well taken care of national treasures, as well as living spiritual centers. I hope the pieces evoke a response from the viewer, hopefully an emotional response," she says.

The pieces have been exhibited in smaller groups across the United States, but this is the first time they have been shown together.

Mitchell has been at RWC for six years and teaches classes in design, drawing, illustration and painting.

The exhibit of 15 charcoal drawings and three acrylic paintings continues through June 7. Hours are 8 a.m. to 5 p.m. weekdays.


 
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