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Surface to Source: Selections from the MOCRA Collection

This survey of the MOCRA collection showcases familiar favorites, lesser-seen gems and recent acquisitions.

Surface to Source installation view (2020)

An installation view of Surface to Source at MOCRA in 2020.

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Let your eyes be surprised by “some unintended glimpse”

For his first show curated as Director of MOCRA, David Brinker delves into the MOCRA collection, bringing out works that haven’t been shown in a number of years and juxtaposing them with perennial favorites. The works from the collection are joined by several works on loan. Meanwhile, the removal of a number of temporary walls opens up new vistas in the gallery.

The exhibition’s title alludes to a poem by the late John O’Donohue, “For the Artist at the Start of Day,” which begins,

May morning be astir with the harvest of night;
Your mind quickening to the eros of a new question,
Your eyes seduced by some unintended glimpse
That cut right through the surface to a source.

Works in the exhibition reflect and refract the dual themes of surface and source. Some works seem to revel in their materiality, with surfaces of heavy impasto, hewn wood, burnished metal, or imperceptible brushwork. Some draw directly from religious traditions or dialogue with art historical antecedents, while others seem to manifest from deep within the artist's imagination. From charming animals processing in pairs, to serene saints inviting contemplation, to refugee children whose piercing gazes refuse to let us look away, these works will delight, intrigue and challenge viewers.

Artists with work in Surface to Source include:

Spotlight Artist: Susan Schwalb

Of special note in Surface to Source is the work of Susan Schwalb. One of the world’s foremost practitioners of the art of silverpoint, Schwalb has created a number of series of works based on Jewish themes. Through a generous gift of the artist in honor of the museum's recent twenty-fifth anniversary, MOCRA is now home to examples of these works spanning thirty years. We are delighted to present them all together for the first time.