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New Figge exhibition confronts binaries and viral spread of ideas
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New Figge exhibition confronts binaries and viral spread of ideas

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While Jane Gilmor and workers at the Figge Art Museum were finishing up installation of her exhibition, a visitor walked by and said she didn't know what was in the gallery, but it looked great.

"That's the response I always hope for," Gilmor said.

It's important for people to find their own meaning in her work, Gilmor said, rather than her explaining what each sculpture means. People can now explore the fluidity of boundaries and consequences of viral ideas and find their own connection to it at the Figge Art Museum.

"Breakfast on Pluto," Gilmor's new exhibition, will be open through Feb. 6 at the Figge's Katz Gallery, 225 W 2nd St., Davenport. An artist talk with Gilmor will accompany the exhibition at 6:30 p.m. Oct. 14, with in-person and virtual options. Those interested must register for the event on the museum's website

Gilmor's career stretches back around 50 years, touching on social issues from different eras and changing narratives. 

“From her early work during the Women’s Art Movement of the 1970s to recent sculptures referencing current issues, Jane Gilmor continues to challenge us,” said Figge Executive Director and CEO Michelle Hargrave in a news release. “Her work grants us the chance to reflect on our own life experiences through the pieces on view.”

Gilmor — who lives in Cedar Rapids — has visited the Figge before. She does have one piece in the Figge's permanent collection, from a project she did during the Bix Festival in 1991. This is her first show at the museum, however. 

The exhibition's pieces are made up of things Gilmor found while clearing out her studio after retiring. The first sculpture she made came out looking like illustrations of the coronavirus, spherical with blunt spike protrusions. This was an accident, she said, but it did fit one of the ideas she wanted to convey. 

"It's about literal viral spread, but it questions the viral spread of ideas and issues, and what is good or bad about that," she said.

Also touched on is the fluidity of borders, boundaries and binaries, and challenging them. Issues having to do with designated space, like isolation from the COVID-19 pandemic and immigrants trying to cross borders, have been prevalent over the recent past. However, she wants people to craft their own narrative as they view the pieces. 

It's a very physical experience, and hard to put into words, Gilmor said. 

She's very excited to have her work shown in the Figge, as its white walls and open rooms lend well to her vision. It's also an outstanding museum, she said. 

"It's such an incredible space," she said. 


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