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Art Springs to Life

Conor Backman, The Sun Never Sets (World - Economic), 2014.  Cast aquaresin, marker and pen on paper, varnish, acrylic paint. (Collection of Lauren Marinaro)

ALBANY, N.Y. (January 4, 2017) – Students, faculty and staff will be treated to the works of artists Conor Backman and Dave McKenzie with the opening on Feb. 2 of two new exhibitions.

Conor Backman: A Clock and Map Minute and Dave McKenzie: An Intermission, will run Feb. 2 - April 1. The Artists’ Reception is Friday, Feb. 3, from 5 to 7 p.m. at the museum.

Conor Backman

Conor Backman, born in Virginia, lives in Hudson, N.Y. This is his first solo museum exhibition. It features paintings and sculptures completed in the last five years.

Backman's most recent paintings, while rooted in the romantic natural world of the 19th century Hudson River School, include elements that disrupt the picture with contemporary concerns related to the idea that we live in a world made newly flat through unlimited access to information.

Some of Backman’s works combine trompe l’oiel, or a trick of the eye, with a type of monochrome, according to an interview he did with Artspace last year.

In one work, he uses an orange in relation to mapmaking, similar to the way a painter depicts the three-dimensional world on a flat plane.

Dave McKenzie

Dave McKenzie, born in Kingston, Jamaica, is a performance artist, sculptor and creator of videos who lives in Brooklyn. McKenzie is a keen observer of the ways in which larger truths are embedded in words and images from everyday life.

He plays with humor in his images and has created a bobble-head of himself and handed them out during an exhibit while wearing a large papier-mache replica of his own head. He once created a balloon of himself for a fourth of July art parade in Aspen, Colorado. The balloon was based on a video he made called Watch the Sky. In Watch the Sky, he used television footage of the Macy’s Day parade and superimposed a caricature of himself over one of the balloon characters.

His new work, An Intermission, features translucent banners. Based on archival and contemporary sources, the banners will hang in the museum to publicly address the rereading and reinterpretation of images in the wake of recent social and political events. McKenzie’s far-reaching dissection of contemporary culture is further demonstrated in four videos, in which Henry Kissinger, Queen Nefertiti, Dora the Explorer and a life-sized Andy Warhol doll make appearances.

Funding is provided by the Office of the President and Office of the Provost, The University at Albany Foundation, and University Auxiliary Services. Made possible in part with public funds from The NYS Council on the Arts’ Electronic Media and Film Presentation Funds grant program, administered by The ARTS Council of the Southern Finger Lakes.

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