manifest international drawing annual 2007 exhibition-in-print
online resource

Karen Bondarchuk
Kalamazoo, Michigan

Western Michigan University, Assistant Professor

pages 41-43

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In my studio and in my life, drawing functions as a visual extension of thought processes and gut instincts;
it facilitates the immediacy of feelings as well as patient, labor intensive layering of image, text, material and meaning. Drawing has the flexibility to embrace the most advanced technological tools, yielding complex,
multi-dimensional results, while maintaining the legitimacy of two-dimensional simplicity.

"Babel" is part of a larger group of drawings called The Corvus Series. The drawings in this series embrace
a lot of different interests, but are primarily a tangle of crows, the Iraq war, idiosyncrasies of language and questions around identity and ontology. In ?Babel,? ancient texts are contrasted against contemporary graffiti
and other forms of writing, and crows shape-shift into words and letters. Language is both the medium and
the message in this drawing, the visual and conceptual backbone, and it embodies the capacity to clarify and confound. In my initial research for this work, I discovered a cuneiform tablet in the Oriental Antiquities image collection at the Louvre dating from 2400 BCE. This small inscribed terracotta piece is a letter from a high
priest to a king informing the latter of his son's death in combat. I was immediately struck by the collapse of
time and place that occurred with this clay missive: the death of a soldier almost 4500 years ago has the
same devastating sting that families in the current Iraq conflict are bearing today with the news that a
loved one have been killed in combat.

I have been observing flocks of crows over the past two winters, and I am struck by both the intensity of their gatherings and their sheer volume. There are hundreds of them, possibly thousands, filling the treetops and
the sky, and their cawing is a truly transporting force. I have listened and watched, trying to understand their enigmatic communication, but can only find inadequate words to describe the phenomenon. Words like caw. "Caw" explores the reductive nature of language we ascribe to animals. in this case, crows and how language can limit our understanding of the complexity of animal communication. The drawings in this series play with
the variant spellings of the onomatopoeia "caw," kaw, kah, caa, cah, cahr and the words function as a barrier
or screen that literally and metaphorically obscure our ability to clearly perceive each crow.



born: 1964, Newmarket, Ontario, Canada


The Ohio State University, MFA, 1995
NSCAD University (formerly Nova Scotia College Art and Design), BFA, 1989

selected awards/honors

Peoples Choice Award for West Michigan Area Show, Kalamazoo Institute of Arts, 2007
Fellowship at Ragdale Foundation, Lake Forest, IL, 2006

selected publications

Illustrations for "Orientalizing Costume in Early Fifteenth-Century French Manuscript Painting." Gesta Magazine for International Center of Medieval Art, vol. XU2, 2001

selected solo or two-person exhibits

The Union: Drawings from the Corvus Series, Kalamazoo, MI, 2007
Space Gallery at WMU: Little Bitch, Fat Sassy Beaver and Other Animal Presences, Kalamzoo, MI, 2004

selected group shows

Mt. Ida College Gallery: Wild Life/Wildlife, Newton MA, 2008
Woman Made Gallery: Some Assembly Required, Chicago, IL, 2007
Ford Gallery at EMU: Great Lakes Drawing Biennial, Ypsilanti, MI, 2006
Jaffe Art Center: As I Am, Norfolk, VA, 2004

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