Exhibition: September 17 - October 12, 2012
Opening Reception: Thursday, September 20, 5-7pm
THOUGHTS ON CLASS NOTES Drawings
Class Notes is a series of drawings made in physics and philosophy seminars at Columbia University over a period of three years. The project is continues. Each drawing is completed within the frame of a single class session. As I listen to lectures, I take notes; I re-inscribed what I hear, creating visual analogues to the intellectual adventures. At the heart of the project has been an ongoing fascination with subjects that are both challenging and extraordinary to me. The tenuous distinction between drawing and writing is invoked.
My interest in the theories and concepts of advanced physics, for instance, is not distinct from her curiosity about the mathematical ciphers; their strange ineluctable beauty suggests but never explicates their meaning. While any language may be inaccessible on one level, it may be captivating and inspiring as it is re-figured and embraced on another.
Philosophy lectures (on Hegel, Kant, Nietzsche, Heidegger, the Philosophy of Islam, and others) also inspire works that mark and perhaps embody some of the very dilemmas that the philosophy addresses. There is a play between the tangible and the intangible, the physical and the metaphysical, the miniscule and the grand. The tangling and untangling of strands, the movements, between what is legible and what is illegible, are what enthralls me. As I engage that tension, the drawings become wondrous explorations of ambiguity and interpretive possibility.
The drawings become sites where the literal is suspended in the abstract, where a concept that garners meaning in one context can inspire very different readings when re-mapped in another.
I think of these drawings as part of the ongoing trespass that insures that the imagination and the intellect are contiguous. The meeting place of seemingly disparate disciplines is also the subject of my work. With this project I continue to re-interpret, re-imagine and extol the beautiful link between writing and drawing.
Of late, I have been reading Jean-Luc Nancy’s writings on philosophy, and I came across an observation (which he makes regarding Hegel’s work) which seems appropriate to much of our experience but, in this case, to the act of drawing.
We could register a whole series of tremblings – religious or aesthetic, for instance. It is always the trembling of the finite seized by the infinite: it is the sensibility of the infinite in the finite. We also realize that Hegel does not have a definitive concept of this image. It comes to him in those places where categories fail and themselves tremble.
One could imagine a tremulous palette for all art, a place where any artistic composition is luminous, profound, and mysterious, through and because of its tenuous presence, a presence that invokes continuous movement - towards and away from what is.
Class Notesinvites a sense of continuity and expansiveness, meeting at the intersection of the aesthetic, intellectual, and theoretical.
 Nancy, Jean-Luc, The Restlessness of the Negative, translated by Jason Smith and Steven Miller. University of Minnesota, 2002. p.44
Alice Attie - Brief Biographical Sketch
My background as an artist is somewhat unusual. I graduated from Barnard College in New York City with a degree in French Literature, concentrating in nineteenth century French Poetry. I went on to pursue and receive and MFA in Poetry, under the tutelage of June Jordon. I completed a Ph.D. in Comparative literature several years later. My doctoral dissertation focused on the modern elegy, specifically on the meeting place of language and the unspeakable: how we accommodate what is inaccessible to language.
As a student of poetry, I often read poets who sought to find visual analogues to the mind’s investigations. As a student of literature, I was, and continue to be,intrigued by writers who labor within language to lift themselves out of it. I cite Kafka, whose works were the focus of many years of study. Kafka in his own life and in his writings, straddled an invisible divide, a horizon from where multiple perspectives could be viewed, a space where the world as he knew it and the worlds of his imagination seemed to share a simultaneity of experience. Kafka felt that writing was a mediation between two worlds, one which allowed for expression while the other hovered, above or within but never in the field of definition. These ideas have been formative to my work in both literary and artistic disciplines.
While I never formally studied art, I have been drawing, with ink, for several years. I have always had a fascination with the relationship between writing and drawing and during my many years of study and teaching, I often composed a visual response to the works I was reading; in my journals, the ink drawings were often re-iterations or re-imaginings of texts I was reading, abstracted from the originals but inspired by them.
I am fascinated by the many ways we can inscribe a page, whatever the scrawl that claims the field may be. My work is often, but not always, an exploration of the possibilities of inscriptions, of the thinking-drawing-gesturing that composes works on paper. The more I draw, the more I recognize that the process of pushing into the possibilities of drawing (and being able to access the openings where those possibilities might take root) is always accompanied by a challenge to understand the impulse itself, what is at the root of the desire to draw. Thus, the narrative of my career is also an investigation of what brings me to make art and why my intellectual interests seem so integral and essential to it.
My drawings have been exhibited over the past decade in many venues, including The Drawing Center in New York City, the Weatherspoon Art Museum in North Carolina, The de Cordova Sculpture Park and Museum in Massachusetts, The Hood Museum at Dartmouth in New Hampshire, The McMullen Museum at Boston College, and the Santa Barbara Museum of Art in California. The drawings are in the collections of the Whitney Museum of American Art in New York and The Jewish Museum in New York City. My collage work is often exhibited in group exhibitions. Drawings and photographs and collages have entered into numerous private collections.
I taught literature for many years, as a part time professor, at Bard College, Barnard College, and Cooper Union. I have also completed numerous many bodies of work in the discipline of photography, with extensive publication of my images in magazines and journals, including The New Yorker, Doubletake, Grey Room and Parnassus. My photographs of Harlem appeared as a book entitled Harlem on the Verge, published by Norton on 2001. The Whitney Museum is one of many museums that has collected my photographs. (My website, aliceattie.com, is devoted solely to photographs.)
LeRoy Neiman Gallery, Columbia University School of the Arts
310 Dodge Hall, 2960 Broadway (at 116th Street), (212) 854-7641
Gallery Hours: Mon - Fri, 9am to 5pm
Closed on Saturday and Sunday
For information on past exhibitions please visit:
List of Past LeRoy Neiman Gallery Exhibitions