SUNY Brockport exhibit explores how illustration gives life to words


In the publishing, editorial and advertising worlds, an illustration provides a visual context in framing the purpose of the words accompanying the image and — in the best of all possible worlds — the author’s intent.  

The Tower Fine Arts Center Gallery, 180 Holley St., Brockport, is exploring how words and images work in tandem with “Picture ... Story ... Purpose: Recent Work in Contemporary Illustration” through Nov. 21.  

“Many of my major projects have been about places,” artist D.B. Dowd said. “Most recently, my award-winning illustrated journal ‘Spartan Holiday’ documents my travels and blends reportage, memoir and history. I have an abiding curiosity about and deep affection for vernacular visual cultures. Humans fashion things. Giving form is a way of making meaning.”  

“L is for Lackey” by D.B. Dowd.

Much might be inferred about Dowd from what he feels is the “the best first sentence in a book not named ‘Moby-Dick.’”  

“The book, a how-to manual for making decorative stencils, was published in the 1920s,” he said. “I cannot remember the author or title. The book began, ‘All normal persons desire to make things.’ Strike the word normal and the utterance is perfect.”

Autumn Brown also is represented in the exhibit. Her recent inspirations culminated in two new bodies of work.  

“The first, ‘The Living Wallpaper,’ appropriates the Art Nouveau aesthetic with subtly animated wall-projected patterns to investigate the tension between the feminine body as decoration and as a site of agency,” she said. “The second, ‘Phantasmagoria,’ is a series of intimately scaled artist books which disclose confessions of taboo fantasies and desires. By presenting these books in the public gallery space, I ask the reader to navigate their position as voyeur, oppressor, confidant and liberator.”

“The Deep” by Autumn Brown.

Other artists whose works are included in the show are Haolin (Vanilla) Chi, Kyle Ellingson, Ingrid Hess, Michael Hirshon, Seo Kim and Chelsea Saunders.  

The gallery is open from noon to 5 p.m. on Mondays-Fridays and 1 to 4 p.m. on Sundays. Admission is free; parking permits are required on weekdays. Call 585-395-2805 for information.