The Catholic University of America

Aug. 25, 2006

'Vice and Virtue': An Exhibition by Catholic University Art Students

Illustrated Lecture by Washington Painter Erik Sandberg Will Accompany Aug. 28-Oct. 9 Show
The Temptation of Saint Anthony© (courtesy Conner Contemporary Art)

While sin, temptation and spiritual salvation may not be common topics for most young art students in the early 21st century, the enduring relevance of these age-old themes is highlighted in a new exhibition of student work, "Vice and Virtue," which will open in the Salve Regina Art Gallery on the campus of The Catholic University of America on Monday, Aug. 28, 2006, and continues through Oct. 9.

Gallery hours are 10 a.m. to 5 p.m., Monday through Friday. The university is located at 620 Michigan Ave., N.E., Washington, D.C.

"Vice and Virtue" features approximately 20 art objects by Arica Bahr, Kathryn Crabtree, Amanda Ince, Elizabeth Lutz, Teresa Mascia and Lindsay Rogers. Their works derive from a semester-long studio seminar, "Vice and Virtue: Advanced Studio Concepts," held in the spring of 2006. The studio was made possible by a grant to Catholic University from an anonymous donor.

Directed by the prominent Washington-based painter Erik Sandberg, "Vice and Virtue" was offered to upper-level studio art students as an opportunity to develop the conceptual and formal aspects of their work. In designing the course, Sandberg challenged his students to explore their understanding of themselves as artists and as individuals.

The exhibit includes a life-size painting of The Temptation of Saint Anthony, the early desert hermit who is credited with founding Christian monasticism. The painting was produced as a collaborative effort between Sandberg, who rendered the huge canvas, and his students, who contributed design concepts for the portrayal of the aged ascetic's temptations: a pig presenting a glistening haunch of meat cut from his own backside; a small pink rat tendering a large gold coin; a monstrous vulture-headed chicken dangling a tiny skeleton before him; a winged and crowned dog holding forth a mirror; a mole rat nesting in his beard, and a nude maiden (with the leering, fleshless face of a skull) fondling Saint Anthony's shoulders.

In this work, suffering and sanctity confront temptation and sin, and the profound lesson of Saint Anthony's maxim - that knowledge of ourselves is the only step by which we can ascend to knowledge and love of the divine - is made vividly manifest.

Sandberg will give an illustrated lecture in conjunction with the exhibit, titled "The Virtue of Vice: Inspiring Self-Reflection and Self-Expression in Studio Art." The lecture will be held in the Salve Regina Art Gallery, on Oct. 5, 2006, at 7 p.m. Sandberg is represented by the local gallery Conner Contemporary Art, in Dupont Circle.

"Vice and virtue are basic themes, common to everyone," Sandberg says. 'They often derive from a religious perspective, but they can be understood as essential human themes in a secular context as well.

"In a lot of contemporary art, lust and desire have been wedded to an avant-garde preference for the shocking over the enduring," he says. "In this course, I tried to get our students to go beyond the sensationalistic aspects of these themes; to see them instead as opportunities for inspiration and introspection in both their work and their lives."

MEDIA: For assistance reaching sources or scheduling interviews, contact Chris Harrison or Katie Lee in the Office of Public Affairs at 202-319-5600.

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Media contact(s):
· Chris Harrison, CUA Office of Public Affairs, 202-319-5600,
· Katie Lee, CUA Office of Public Affairs, 202-319-5600,