Heather Anderson
College of Liberal Arts & Sciences

Transformation a theme for regional artist's exhibition

Thu, 08/20/2015

LAWRENCE — Taking basic, ordinary materials and transforming them into mysterious, playful works of art, Brett Reif has created works to be featured in the opening show for the semester in the Art & Design Gallery. Reif’s work synthesizes art historical movements like Arte Povera and Pop Art with a distinct contemporary sensibility.

“As an educator, I feel it is very important to show students how to find inspiration from art history and respond to it,” said Shawn Bitters, associate professor of visual art. “Art in many ways is a dialogue between artists across time, and it is important to help students place themselves in this conversation.”

Reif’s show, "Downpoor," will be on display from Sunday, Aug. 23,  to Sept. 18 during regular gallery hours. An opening reception will take place from 6 p.m. to 8 p.m. Thursday, Aug. 27, in the gallery, located in the newly named Chalmers Building. The show and opening is free, and the public is welcome.

A common theme of Reif’s work is transformation, challenging artists and viewers to expand their thinking about what can be used as an art material. Reif uses common household items such as bathroom tile, grout and bathtub plugs and changes them into surprising, disruptive, delightful and sometimes disturbing works of art.

“The popularity of networks like HGTV, DIY and the ubiquity of home improvement stores demonstrates society’s obsession with personalizing our home environments, to be a reflection of us,” Bitters said.

Reif’s show takes those ideas to the extreme. The sculptures and “paintings” anthropomorphize bathroom and kitchen decorative materials, giving them human characteristics.

Reif lives and works out of Kansas City, Missouri. Influenced by arte povera, Reif specializes in nontraditional media wall work, sculpture and installation. Currently Reif is in a three-year residency at Studio Inc. in downtown Kansas City. He has had solo exhibitions recently at the Kansas City Artists Coalition in Kansas City and the Du Mois Gallery in New Orleans with an upcoming solo exhibition at Studio Inc. His work was also recently featured in the online magazine and can be seen online at

Originally from New Orleans, Louisiana, Reif graduated from Loyola University with a BFA and received his MFA from the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill. Currently, Reif is an associate professor at the Kansas City Art Institute.

Chalmers Hall is at the northeast corner of 15th Street and Naismith Drive. Visitor parking is available at the Allen Fieldhouse Parking Garage, 1501 Irving Hill Road.

The Department of Visual Art is one of four departments in the School of the Arts. As part of the KU College of Liberal Arts and Sciences, the School of the Arts offers fresh possibilities for collaboration between the arts and the humanities, sciences, social sciences, international and interdisciplinary studies.

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