UCR professor Ossman to exhibit paintings at La Sierra
Feb. 7, 2013
By Darla Martin Tucker
RIVERSIDE, Calif. – (www.lasierra.edu) As a young child Susan Ossman felt the tug of dual interests in art and anthropology, areas she developed over the years into a rich career that combines both subjects.
A professor of anthropology and director of the global studies program at the University of California, Riverside, Ossman is also an experienced artist who has exhibited her paintings at the Brunei Gallery in London. On Feb. 11 she will bring her talent to La Sierra University’s Brandstater Gallery in a show of oil on canvas paintings and mixed medial collages called “On the Line.” The exhibit will continue through March 11. An opening reception will be held Feb. 11, 6- 8 p.m.
Gallery hours are Mon. – Thurs., 10 a.m. – 4 p.m., Sun., 2 – 5 p.m. Admission is free. The gallery is located at the Visual Art Center 112, Building 1. For further information call 951-785-2170. La Sierra University is located at 4500 Riverwalk Parkway, Riverside.
“In this exhibition I contemplate clotheslines to investigate lines of all kinds,” says Ossman in a statement about her exhibit. “Miming the hanging of laundry in painted gestures, I catch the words of women who exchange gossip on terraces or tell secrets across backyard fences as they hang their clothes to dry.”
“ ‘On the Line’ invokes the sensuous qualities of fabric on the line with the same nostalgia with which one might consider lost languages or civilizations. It registers my own experience of seeing a practice I took for granted while living in Europe and North Africa interpreted as a quaint survival when I moved to California,” Ossman said.
Ossman’s artistic mediums include acrylic, charcoal, pastels, and mixed media on paper. She does not create art to illustrate her anthropological research but rather creates art as part of the fieldwork process, she said. “Sometimes I explore questions I’m delving into through my research through pairing or other art forms,” said Ossman. “Sometimes the art is not technically done in relationship to a fieldwork topic, but it becomes a way of exploring issues that anthropologists and artists are investigating. Art can push anthropologists to think in new directions.”
Ossman has loved art since childhood, she said. As a 10-year-old growing up in Chicago she set up a studio in the basement of her home where she could escape the movement and noise of her large family upstairs and paint and draw in solitude. “I still have some of the watercolors I made based on photos of people in ethnographies I was reading at the time,” she said. She studied art throughout her schooling including at the University of California, Berkeley where she pursued pairing and printmaking in addition to history major classes. She graduated with a degree in history and one course shy of an art degree.
Ossman has lived, worked and carried out research in North Africa, Europe, the Middle East and North America on media, migration, gender and aesthetics. She has written several books on these themes, most recently releasing “Moving Matters: Paths of Serial Migration,” a work published this year by Stanford University Press. The book serves as a portrait of an individual who has lived in several countries and at varying times calls each one ‘home.’ The book derives from her own migratory experiences living in Chicago, the San Francisco Bay area, Paris, Morocco, the U.S. East Coast, London, and Riverside, Calif. She created artwork for the book’s cover that relates to her life path.
Her current projects include a study of people who live without cars in the Los Angeles area, an analysis of Tunisia’s civil revolution, and a project that draws on biographic narratives to produce ‘lifeworks.’ She is also teaching a class on art and anthropology at UCR, aided by La Sierra University art department Chair Beatriz Mejia-Krumbein.
Ossman arrived at UCR in 2007. Previously she taught at Goldsmith’s College/University of London, Rice University in Houston, Texas, Georgetown University in Washington D.C., The American University of Paris and the CELSA-Sorbonne. In 1992 she founded the Rabat center of the Institut de Recherche sur le Maghreb Contemporain, now called the Centre Jacques Berque where she was a research fellow and director until 1996.