Faces are usually the first thing we notice in other people and tell us more about a person than any other physical attribute. Faces have always been socially important to humans. More often than not, we evaluate each other from first impressions based largely on facial expressions and body language. The early work of naturalist Charles Darwin indicated that people all over the world both express and perceive facial expression in similar ways. While nonverbal communication and behavior can vary dramatically between cultures, the facial expressions that range from calm and content to states of agitation are similar throughout the world. Although culture shapes the nuances of facial expressions, nature seems to endow us with a limited number of base emotions and ways to convey them.
Not surprisingly, the representation of human emotion through facial expression has interested artists since antiquity. The depiction of human faces has been a theme in artwork from ancient Egyptian wall paintings, to early Hebrew and Christian representations, to Renaissance portraits, to modern abstract paintings, to contemporary portraiture. The facial expression in an artwork stimulates our psychological need to understand the emotion being conveyed. An expressive work can also reveal an underpinned narrative and provide a window into the character and motivations of the subjects, the artist, and even their audience.
The works presented in Visage draw on the artists’ collective interest in depicting facial expressions and body language. Whether portraying the full figure or focusing on the face, using paint, collage, or charcoal, the work serves as a means for these artists to use the universal signal of facial expressions to connect with the viewer.
Exhibiting artists include Grant Gilsdorf (Columbus, OH); Susan Moore (Philadelphia, PA); Brooke Olivares (Sarasota, FL); Nick Reszetar (Ann Arbor, MI); Terry Rodgers (Columbus, OH): Nikki Rosato (Washington, D.C.); and Adrian Waggoner (Columbus, OH).