Jennifer Onofrio Fornes holds opening reception for new Rochester art exhibition

Mortality and spirituality are the focus of a new art exhibition in the Rochester Community and Technical College Art Gallery.

Jennifer Onofrio Fornes held an opening reception Thursday evening for her collection "Within Without."

"Growing up surrounded by a home library of Mayo Clinic medical books spurred my curiosity concerning the physical. Recently, my interest has shifted toward the recognition of physical limitations while searching for ways to transcend them," said Fornes. 

The gallery features a combination of photographic and sculptural works.

The tall sculptural vessels derive from hand-cut wood. The darker vessels are coated with powdered graphite and charcoal. The white urn-shaped vessels are covered in bone-ash, a common clay additive. Fornes says they’re designed to acknowledge and honor people of the past.

"I think the verticality of these larger forms, you can’t help but not relate to them just in terms of our own verticality as humans. The placement of the vessels and the position of the light which shines above the art give it a shrine-like spiritual quality," said Fornes.

The Rochester native artist’s interest and curiosity in the physical limitations of human beings and the search to overcome them serve as the core of her work. 

Fornes has a background in sculpture, painting, drawing, and photography. "I tend to float between mediums in my work. I draw from the media that serves my conceptual concerns at the moment," Fornes said.

“In the photographic work, the figure is integral but I am less concerned with communicating a physical likeness as much as conjuring less visible aspects of the subject,” said Jennifer Onofrio Fornes.“ By immersing the figure in ephemeral spaces created in the studio, and through long exposures, I try to touch on the psychological, and spiritual spaces we occupy rather than the physical," Fornes said in a statement.

When asked what Fornes hopes her visitors take away from her display, "I hope they can come in and kind of have a quiet and reflective space as they kind of interact with these larger pieces and reflect a little bit on that space that we occupy that isn’t necessarily physical, but that space we occupy that is more psychological or spiritual." 

Fornes credits much of her inspiration to her mother, Judy Onofrio, an internationally known mixed-media artist, and her father who is a retired neurosurgeon.

The exhibition is free and continues through Oct. 5. The RCTC Art Gallery is open weekdays 9:00 am – 4:00 pm 

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