Unearth: Judy Onofrio

June 4, 2016 – January 15, 2017

Curated by Megan Johnston

Rochester Art Center is pleased to announce a signature, solo presentation of new work by Judy Onofrio. The show comprises more than 70 works, including early sculptural work while presenting an entire floor to Onofrio’s new artwork utilizing found animal bones. This new work emphasizes Onofrio’s life-long interest in form and materiality. Unearth is an exhibition about the spiritual idea of digging, finding, uncovering, and revealing the beauty of both life and death through earth and bone. Onofrio’s work embodies a transcendence of spirit. The sculptures seem to float between worlds—both physically and spiritually.

Always a master of material, Judy Onofrio has been subtly and organically integrating animal bones into her repertoire of sculpted, embellished and painted forms for the past several years. Her most recent sculpture has fully embraced this material and is constructed entirely of oil-painted bone. Onofrio began working with bone in 2008 in response to a serious illness. That experience of healing and survival led her to an increased awareness and appreciation for the physical and spiritual energy of life lived. As Onofrio discovered, the inclusion of bones as symbolic reminders of the fleetingness of earthly pleasures and the inevitability of death has a long-standing, metaphorical place within the history of art.

Her most recent sculpture stands in sharp contrast to the colorfully embellished figures that populated her work of the previous two decades, and the new work represents a vigorous reinvention of Onofrio’s choice of materials. Charged with a profound respect for physical and spiritual life, Onofrio’s sculpture is sustained by the confidence that in every ending there is a new beginning.

About the Artist

Judy Onofrio is a recipient of two Lifetime Achievement Awards from the Minnesota Crafts Council, and from Rochester Art Center, and a recipient of the Distinguished Artist Award from the McKnight Foundation. Solo exhibitions include those at Minneapolis Institute of the Arts, MN; Laumeier Sculpture Park and Museum, St. Louis, MO; The Daum Museum of Contemporary Art, Sedalia, MO; North Dakota Museum of Art, Grand Forks, ND; Chazen Museum of Art, Madision, WI and the Arkansas Arts Center, Little Rock, AR. Judy Onofrio’s sculpture has been extensively collected in public and private collections nationally and internationally.

Image caption: Judy Onofrio. Connection, 2015, Cow bones, 54”h x 38”w x 9”d