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Strange Oscillations & Vibrations of Sympathy

October 26–December 18 | University Galleries

Strange Oscillations and Vibrations of Sympathy features works by contemporary female artists that acknowledge women writers. The exhibition's title is derived from a sentence Sylvia Plath underlined in her copy of Virginia Woolf's The Waves, and that Stephanie Brooks later appropriated for a text-based artwork. These multiple layers of mediation are integral to all of the included works. The exhibition will feature works by 21 artists inspired by writers including: Octavia Butler, A.S. Byatt, María Elena Cruz Varela, Emily Dickinson, Zora Neale Hurston, Clarice Lispector, Gabriela Mistral, Toni Morrison, Alejandra Pizarnik, Mary Shelley, Rebecca Solnit, Gertrude Stein, Sylvia Plath, Mary Wollstonecraft, and Virginia Woolf.

As a tribute to Woolf's foundational essay "A Room of One's Own," all the artists selected for Strange Oscillations are female in order to focus the interpretation of literature through the lenses of subsequent generations of artists. The works in the exhibition demonstrate the political and creative progress of feminism, examine writers’ intellectual pursuits, navigate their status as literary icons, and interpret their legacies. They also engender an intimate and sustained contemplation of texts—a cerebral, analytical pursuit whose future is threatened by a culture that favors sound bites, hashtags, and 140-character tweets.

Artists: Jen Bervin, Stephanie Brooks, Anne Collier, Bethany Collins, Moyra Davey, Marcelline Delbecq, Abigail DeVille, Eve Fowler, Dianna Frid, Coco Fusco, Sabina Ott, Melissa Pokorny, Dawn Roe, Kay Rosen, Carrie Schneider, Xaviera Simmons, Lisa Tan, Cecilia Vicuña, Catherine Wagner, Carrie Mae Weems, Deborah Willis

University Galleries will publish an accompanying catalogue in 2017 featuring texts by exhibition curator Kendra Paitz, art historian Melissa Johnson, poet/artist Cecilia Vicuña, and artists Deborah Willis, Xaviera Simmons, Kay Rosen, and Marcelline Delbecq.

Strange Oscillations and Vibrations of Sympathy is organized by University Galleries’ Senior Curator Kendra Paitz. The exhibition has been made possible by a grant from The Andy Warhol Foundation for the Visual Arts and is co-sponsored by the Harold K. Sage Foundation and the Illinois State University Foundation Fund. The catalogue is funded in part by a grant from the Elizabeth Firestone Graham Foundation. Programs at University Galleries are funded in part by a grant from the Illinois Arts Council Agency.

Related programming

  • Opening reception: October 25, from 5 to 7pm
  • Artist lecture by Bethany Collins: October 26 at 12pm
  • Screening of Dawn Roe’s The Sunshine Bores | The Daylights: October 25 through December 18 at Illinois State University’s Milner Library
  • Field trip program: October 26 through December 18 (exhibition tours + workshops, by appointment, transportation subsidies available)
  • Curator-led exhibition tours: October 26 through December 18 (by appointment)
  • Storytelling activity for children: November 2 at 10am. No registration required.
  • Oscillations of Genre and Gender Symposium: November 9 through November 12
    Organized by Melissa Johnson (Associate Professor, Art History and Visual Culture) and Juliet Lynd (Associate Professor, Spanish and Latin American Studies).
    Co-sponsored by the Harold K. Sage Foundation, Office of Research and Graduate Studies, Latin American and Latino/a Studies Program, Women’s and Gender Studies Program, and University Galleries.
  • Artist lecture by Jen Bervin: November 9 at 4pm
  • Performance by Cecilia Vicuña: November 10 at 6pm
  • Symposium summary remarks by artist Dianna Frid: November 12 at 10:30am (Milner Library)
  • Educators’ workshop: November 29 at 5:30pm
    Co-organized and presented with Judith Briggs (Associate Professor, Art Education) and Keri Leach (Graduate Student, Art Education). Recertification points available.

All events are free and open to the public. Contact or 309.438.8191 to register for the educators’ workshop, field trip program, or exhibition tours.

University Galleries is located at Uptown Station at the corner of Beaufort and Broadway streets. Parking is available directly above in the Uptown Station parking deck, and the first hour is free, as well as any time after 5:01pm. If you need special accommodations to participate in any event, please contact University Galleries at 309.438.5487 or All events at University Galleries are free and open to the public.

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Milner Library
Campus Box 8900
201 North School St.
Normal, Il 61790-8900
Phone: 309.438.3451

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Last Updated: 10/21/16