Who Am I? Exhibition
Scale: Interior Central Section, 1988
Cheryl Goldsleger (American, b. 1951)
Oil, wax pigment on linen
Gift of Class of 1976. In the Art on Campus Collection, University Museums, Iowa State University, Ames, Iowa.
The complexity and simplicity of space have been constant sources of inspiration for my work. My interests lie in the relationship individuals and societies have with place, location, and boundaries. I address these ideas using abstract visual language that pursues a sense of tension and seeks to suggest a human presence. The differences and nuances of how space is perceived individually and how it is understood conceptually are two of the underlying ideas in my paintings. Referencing maps, the images I create are neither entirely specific nor completely fictional. Geometric and analytical forms in my works serve as metaphors for physical and conceptual constraints possibly reminding viewers of migration issues or systems that envelop and connect us to each other while simultaneously insulating individuals from one another. The marks, lines and shapes in my works become independent forces acting in concert or in conflict in hopes of evoking narrative associations. References to physics, astronomy, geography and more may suggest global forces beyond our control. Using resist, my paintings evolve gradually in layers of accumulated marks and washes using powdered pigments, drawing materials and paints that I make myself. Ethereal washes, linear geometric forms and contrasts in scale strive to offer a place of focus and a way to reflect and synthesize a way to think about our own place in an increasingly global society
Cheryl Goldsleger’s painting of layered architectural elements provided me with the perfect representation of how so often we re-interpret images and experiences that surround us as we grow. Although the image may stay the same, new layers of meaning have been mapped onto this painting for me over the past nine years, beginning as a student, and now as Assistant Curator with University Museums.
I had first viewed this painting in my initial months at Iowa State in 2011, on a freshman tour of the Christian Petersen Art Museum. I don’t remember much about the tour, other than doing a close looking exercise with the painting. This painting, with its chaotic lines and layered, undefined rooms, at the time felt very fitting to my first weeks on campus. I was figuring out who I was, what my future path would be, and what I wanted to focus on in school. I quickly fell into my routine, finding friends and majors I loved. I eventually became an intern at University Museums, and worked towards a career that would allow me to use objects to engage others in informal-learning. My perspective of Goldsleger’s layered painting became less chaotic, and more of a well-traveled image of time spent gaining an education.
Returning to this painting almost nine years later, the layered imagery and architectural elements take on a new meaning as I look through eyes that are in a different stage of life. Although I am in the same physical space, I’ve retraced these stairways many times through different roles – a young student very unsure of herself, an intern, and finally a staff member hoping to make an impact with University Museums in the future. I still may see chaos in this image on some days, but mostly I see the steps I’ve taken and retraced to get here, and know that I have the tools I need to be successful.
Assistant Curator, University Museums