Teresa S. Unseld, Transcend

Teresa S. UnseldTranscend, Family Portrait, collage drawing, 24″ x 30″, $450.00, Twenty-Two Gallery236 S. 22nd St., Philadelphia, Pennsylvania 19103. Through January 5th, 2014.

“tran-scend…to be or go beyond the limits of the abstract or conceptual…

For me, creating art is to enter into a state of transcending as the parameters of the defined are pushed and redefined. Integrating collage and graphite allows me to create visual responses that transcend what is seen on the surface. Exhibiting themes of family, ancestral memories and compositional dialogues, those visual expressions focus on connecting our human and spiritual experiences.” – Teresa S. Unseld

Since 2003, Twenty-Two Gallery has been showing local, emerging and established artist’s work in a variety of mediums. This bright space, nestled in Philadelphia’s Rittenhouse Square area, has art openings on the “Second Friday” of each month.

Teresa S. Unseld, Transcend

Teresa S. UnseldTranscend, Earth Body, collage drawing, 23″ x 28″, $425.00, Twenty-Two Gallery

Arriving a bit early at the opening of Teresa S. UnseldTranscend at Twenty-Two Gallery offered the opportunity to view the collection of ‘collage drawings’ without much distraction from when the art crowd arrives. A mix of collage and drawing as well as graphite drawings, the works have a spare quality with lots of white space surrounding the compositions. It takes a minute to adjust to the compositions which seem simple yet are composed of symbols, icons, marks and lines revealing stories and expressions through abstraction and mixed media. At first the art looks like drawings but there are images collaged onto the surface of people, patterns and rituals with a deep narrative that runs thematically from piece to piece. The work is deep and emotional packed with memes and memories that are not immediately apparent and require some time to comprehend.

Teresa S. Unseld, Transcend

Teresa S. UnseldTranscend, Horned Woman, collage drawing on clayboard, 8″ x 6″, $100.00, Horned Owl, collage drawing on clayboard, 8″ x 6″, $100.00 and Tools, graphite drawing, 16″ x 12″, $250.00, Twenty-Two Gallery

When I arrived in the gallery there was ethereal music playing that would soon be overwhelmed by people talking but Teresa S. Unseld and I had an opportunity to discuss the significance of the music to the artist.

“The music is composed by Hildegard von Bingen, from the 1200’s. And one of the works here is focussed on the walk of Hildegard, so I was pretty much intrigued with this German woman who in her time was a musician, a visionary, a mathematician, you name it, she was ahead of her time. The piece here based on the piece is owned by a friend and was sent here from Colorado, so it’s perfect you can hear the music as you look.”

What is the walk of Hildegard?

“She’s walking and thinking and I’m picturing her composing in her mind all these things. And so the music we hear is a modern day version of the music she has written, you could say she was the female Leonardo da Vinci.A lot of mu work is spiritual, so it’s only natural that I would be drawn to her. I was really happy that she (the artwork) was able to arrive from Colorado. The walk infers to her walking and how we conceive ideas, when you look at her you can see she is just in thought. And she’s a nun and that’s what makes it more intriguing, that she was a woman of God and yet she was mostly all of these things that are usually attributed to men in the 12th and 13th centuries. The walk means she’s contemplating all these worlds, all these things.”

Teresa S. Unseld, Transcend

Teresa S. UnseldTranscend, Ancestors, collage drawing, 22″ x 29″, $450.00, Twenty-Two Gallery

So, what were you thinking of when you made these works?

“I was listening to this music, so, I’m really transcending myself, which is the name of my show, as I’m thinking about this person that has all these things going on. And to capture that in the simplicity of the space and the faith, and the symbols, of Christianity but at the same time there is something beyond that that keeps going out, and out, and out.”

I notice your work has a lot of white space.

“Yeah, one of my students called it space economy, we’ve got a new term here! My mother is Japanese and I think part of that Zen-like quality comes through, my father is African-American from Philly. So, you’ll see a lot of the Japanese influence in the white space, but sometimes I like to do the photo collages. These are photos that were taken and then placed on top and I like to do some writing. I love writing, I like to do poetry. I have three of these pieces and I really go into a place of transcending when I write, And when I create art I feel the same thing.Part of me loses time, it transcends. I think we all do that, so I focussed on the transcending that we all engage.”

I notice a lot of invisible lines, planes bumping into each other.

“I like to take it in and out and I use a lot of spheres. The circle always comes in my work. It’s like I can’t start unless there is a circle somewhere, it kind of tells me what to do. It’s in all of them, I can’t help it. I’ll put one in if I’m not sure where to go, if I draw it in it tells me where to go…there is so much power in the circle, I can do it in my sleep.”

Teresa S. Unseld, Transcend

Teresa S. UnseldTranscend, Talking Hand, collage drawing, 16″ x 13″, $150.00, Twenty-Two Gallery

Talking Hand

Ancient roads,

weaving, connecting, creating new languages;

Yesterday, tomorrow,

east and west

passing through this moment

Teresa S. Unseld is an art educator, author and graphic artist. Dr. Unseld grew up and attended schools on military bases throughout the United States and abroad. She is currently serving as an associate professor at the University of the Arts in Philadelphia. Dr. Unseld served as a faculty member of the Fine Arts department at the University of Kentucky, Winston-Salem State University and Metropolitan State College of Denver. She received her Doctorate in Art Education from Ball State University, and both her bachelor’s degree in art education and a master’s degree in studio art from Morehead State University. She is the former national president of the United States Society for Education through Art (USSEA) and is a member of the National Art Education Association. Unseld is the author of Portfolios,a book series that combines American history, art and learning activities to introduce learners to the contributions made by Americans of diverse cultures and ethnicities. In 1995, Dr. Unseld received the National Art Education Association J. Eugene Grigsby Jr. Teaching Award and has conducted related field experiences and research in Australia, China, Croatia, Italy and Ghana. She is a graphic artist who combines graphite imagery with collages. She has exhibited nationally and internationally.” – University of the Arts website

Written and photographed by DoN Brewer except where noted.

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