A collection of works capturing the human figure will highlight an exhibition at Southern Alleghenies Museum of Art at Loretto.

“A Celebration of the Body: Selections from the Permanent Collection” exhibit will be on display Friday through Jan. 16 in the Sullivan Gallery at SAMA-Loretto, St. Francis University campus, 112 Franciscan Way.

Throughout history, the human body has been a favorite subject in art in terms of studying muscles, movement and anatomy.

The exhibition celebrates the tradition of rendering the body through various forms of artistic media.

“We are in our 45th anniversary year, and as always, I like to highlight certain features of our permanent collection,” said Jessica Campbell, exhibition curator.

“This was an exhibition a colleague and I were talking about curating, and it was a good fit for Loretto because of its size and number of pieces we wanted to incorporate.”

She said the museum did a portrait exhibition a few years ago and focusing on the body seemed like a natural progression.

“We started pulling out some of our favorite pieces from the collection that featured bodies or figure studies, and it came to fruition,” Campbell said.

“My goal was to feature pieces that haven’t been seen in years.”

The exhibit will include more than 60 pieces.

“There’s a mix of two- and three-dimensional work,” Campbell said.

“There’s everything from paintings to bronze pieces. There’s a mixture of acrylics, oils and mixed media.”

The show features American artists and focuses on contemporary artists.

“I really wanted to showcase some of the ‘Wow’ pieces in our permanent collection,” Campbell said.

“Our mission is to highlight American artists, and that’s all we have in our permanent collection. You’ll see pieces by Jo Owens Murray, and we have a few of her pieces in our collection, and Carole Feuerman, who is a well-known artist and sculptor, but also a photorealism artist.”

She said the show is being arranged so each piece can stand out and alone, capturing the attention of the viewer.

“At the same time, I try to make sure that there is a nice visual flow to the pieces,” Campbell said.

She said the exhibit also showcases how artists interpret the human body.

“Every artist views the world and the body differently, so this is a way of seeing the multiple ways that people are capturing the body,” Campbell said.

“I hope people will have an appreciation for the art, and maybe it will open their eyes to a new way of representing the body.”

In conjunction with “A Celebration of the Body,” an exhibition of works by Altoona resident Joe Servello from SAMA’s permanent and education collections will also be on display in the Margery Wolf-Kuhn Gallery.

To preview the exhibition, a performance show, “From the Fig Leaf On,” will be presented from 5 to 7 p.m. Thursday.

The one-woman fashion show will feature Bonnie Resinski, costume designer and wardrobe manager for the Center for Fine Arts at St. Francis University.

In the 45-minute presentation, attendees will learn fashion history from Eve to Scarlett O’Hara and the shapes of modern clothing from 1890 to 1990, highlighting social, political and economic influences that explain the fashion trends of the past 100 years.

“I thought this would be a perfect preview opening for this exhibition,” Campbell said.

“Throughout time, more often than not, you see studies of the female body, and I thought this would be a fun juxtaposition with Bonnie’s performance and the exhibit. It’s a little bit of visual and performing arts in one.”

The program will focus on how garments from the past figured in the age-old search for ways to beautify the human form – male and female.

“I’ll be using all white fabric, and it’s really manipulating a piece of fabric to go through fashion history,” Resinski said.

“No matter what clothing we wear for whatever reason, it’s the clothing that pulls the imagination to the body underneath.”

Those seeing the performance will gain a better historical understanding of why clothes look the way they do.

“There’s economics and attitudes toward women, and in some cases, almost the use of women as the lure for excess,” Resinski said.

“You might learn something you never knew, and that could come along the way in any one of the historical periods that I show.”

Light refreshments will be served.

The cost is $15 per person and reservations are requested by calling 814-472-3920 or online at www.sama-art.org

Gallery hours are noon to 4:30 p.m. Tuesdays through Fridays.

The museum is open to the public free of charge.

For more information, call 814-472-3920 or visit www.sama-art.org.

Kelly Urban is a reporter for The Tribune-Democrat. She can be reached at (814) 532-5073. Follow her on Twitter @KellyUrban25.

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