Monday, Aug. 23, 1999
The intersection of image and
word in the creation of art will be featured in two Virginia Commonwealth University
exhibitions showcasing the works and collections of the late multimedia artist Davi Det
Hompson. VCU is joining with three Central Virginia galleries to present the retrospective
exhibitions in "Davi Det Hompson: Just Out of Reach," opening Sept. 3.
A VCU faculty member, the former David E. Thompson reconfigured the spacing of the
letters of his name in 1966 to create his artistic signature, Davi Det Hompson. In
addition to his national prominence as a book artist and early ties to the Fluxus
artists’ association, Hompson experimented with various media, including
installation, painting, performance and video.
Howard Risatti, a VCU art historian and critic, coordinated the five-part project. He
calls the retrospective "both a tribute and a reminder of how a single individual
possessing generosity of spirit and purpose can infuse a vital humanity into the life of
his neighbors and his community."
At VCU, the Anderson Gallery, 907 ½ W. Franklin St., will offer "Thunk,"
featuring examples of Hompson’s many book works and objects involving text. Special
Collections and Archives, part of University Library Services, will offer "Got."
This show will include a selection of numerous artists’ book works collected by
Hompson and acquired by the James Branch Cabell Library, 901 Park Ave.
"Thunk" explores Hompson’s critically acclaimed text work, including his
influence with the Fluxus movement, which featured irreverant artists such as George
Maciunas, Joseph Beuys and Yoko Ono. The 40 pieces to be displayed range from finely
crafted books to intentionally rustic prints – all linked by their use of text. The
show, set to close on Oct. 24, also includes samples of collaborative works with Cliff
Baldwin created shortly before Hompson died unexpectedly in December 1996.
These text works at first appear disarmingly obvious and approachable. On second
impression, the works become perhaps comical or disturbing.
"There is a juxtaposition of the way a word looks visually versus what the word
means," said John Caperton, exhibit curator and Anderson Gallery special projects
coordinator. "Viewing his work conjures up more than what you see on the surface.
It’s an interactive experience. The simplicity of his design creates a whole train of
thought among the viewers, who are challenged to create their own context or meaning for
the words they see before them."
"Got" showcases manuscripts and book art collected by Hompson and acquired in
1979 as the foundation for the VCU library’s 3,000 book art holdings. VCU is
showcasing about 50 works from Hompson’s 300-item collection. "Got", which
will close Oct. 17, was curated by Nicole De Armendi and Rebecca Dobyns, both art history
students and library assistants.
Hompson’s collection encompasses all aspects of contemporary book art
publications, ranging from printed text and photo narratives to multi-structured objects
of art. This art form began to expand in the 1970s with artists’ production of
handmade books, self-produced magazines and serial publications – all made easier
with new techniques for duplication, narration and sequencing of images. Book art provided
a physical format that explored wide-ranging conceptual themes introduced a decade
Other exhibitions and sites in the retrospective series are: "Skin," Hand
Workshop Art Center; "Mud," 1708 Gallery, co-curated by VCU’s Risatti; and
"Did," Reynolds Gallery.
A progressive public opening will be held on Sept. 3. VCU’s Anderson Gallery will
be open from 7-9 p.m. and Special Collections from 7-8 p.m. A special
audience-participatory exhibition catalog will be available at the opening. Viewers will
receive an envelope at the first venue; at each site, they will add cards with color
reproductions of Hompson’s work and exhibition essays.
The Anderson Gallery is open Tuesday-Friday, 10 a.m.-5 p.m. and Saturday-Sunday, 1-5
p.m. For details, call the gallery at 828-1522.
Special Collections and Archives, on the fourth floor of Cabell Library, is open
Monday-Friday, 9 a.m.-noon and 1-6 p.m., with other hours by appointment. For details,