Advance reviews ‘Figure in Motion’ exhibition

Advance reviews ‘Figure in Motion’ exhibition

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Sunday, Sept. 30, 2012
‘Figure in Motion’ exhibit celebrates art of dance at Staten Island’s Wagner College Gallery
by MICHAEL J. FRESSOLA

When dancers and visual artists interact, it’s all about form.

Typically, dancers are lean and perfectly toned. Flexible, disciplined and accustomed to admiration — it’s no wonder painters and draftsman, sculptors and photographers love them.

Artist and educator Griselda Healy has taken the romance a step further.

When she began drawing dancers four years ago, she moved into their world. She took class, she watched classes. She attended performances (Degas, by contrast, did not study ballet alongside the little ballerinas he so famously painted).

As Healy explains it: “The subject is complex. I needed to understand the movement physically.”

Apparently, it’s easier to grasp muscle structure, choreography and movement when you can feel it, when you are sore.

The artist has developed a long-term connection to dancers affiliated with choreographer Laurie De Vito who is headquartered in the Dance New Amsterdam Gallery in lower Manhattan.

She’s produced quite a bit of work: Sketches, seven-feet wide “scroll drawings” and a series of 13 large-scale (82-by-38-inch panel) paintings. Some of it, “Figure in Motion,” will be shown next month, Oct. 2 to 27, in the Wagner College Gallery (the artist is on the school’s art faculty).

“The dancers have come from all parts of the world to dance in New York City,” Healy says. “They meet weekly to rehearse at DNA Dance Studios downtown on Chambers Street near the courts and City Hall. The context of these panel paintings make reference to the monumental architecture, bridges, parks, river, sea and sky in this part of the city.”

She’s thinking of the installation as “one work, one continuous flow of dancers moving across a created space. It can stand on its own just as De Vito’s choreography can.”

Still, Healy has incorporated dance into her opening reception Oct. 13 from 4 to 6 p.m. Mika Yanagihara will perform “Struggle,” choreographed by De Vito, in the exhibition space “as living sculpture,” surrounded by renderings of dancers, caught in the act.

A Long Island native, Healy studied at the Lyme Academy College of Fine Arts, the National Academy of Design and the Art Students League. In 1997, Healy joined the Visual Arts Studio Program at the Snug Harbor Cultural Center on Staten Island where, she says, her serious work began. She recently relocated to Manhattan, and she maintains a studio in Brooklyn affiliated with the New York Artists and Residency Studios Foundation.

“Figure in Motion” is Healy’s second solo exhibition in the Wagner College Gallery. Her earlier show, “Portrait and Figure Paintings,” was on display in early 2009.

The Wagner College Gallery is located in the Union building on the campus at One Campus Rd., Grymes Hill; 718-390-3192. Gallery hours: Tuesday-Saturday, 11a.m. to 4 p.m. Admission is free.