Carol Tyler Guns the American Way    1993 in Late Bloomer  14.5 x 11.5 ink on paper

Carol Tyler, Guns the American Way, 1993, ink on paper, 14.5 x 11.5 in.

Arpita Singh Cain() The Wanderer  2012 watercolor on paper 16 x 11.5 inches tn

Arpita Singh, Cain (?) The Wanderer, 2012, watercolor on paper, 16 x 11.5 in.

January 16 – April 26, 2014 

Graphic novels are book-length illustrated narratives produced by a myriad of contemporary author-artists. In January 2014, Rutgers-Camden’s Stedman Gallery becomes a haven for artists displaying comix versions of their life stories through a marriage of drawings to text. Also featured are artists with sensibilities kindred to the graphic novelists but working in other mediums including sculpture, painting, mixed media, and video. Transgressing societal conventions, these artists tell of horrific childhoods, mental illness, sexual exploration, family history, wild adventures, unconventional friends, and alter egos. Guest curator Cheryl Harper selected original drawings from the graphic novels and complementary works in other media by artists who reveal their innermost demons.

This exhibition includes graphic novelists who were contemporaries of early underground comix artists Robert Crumb and Art Spiegelman. Today Justin GreenJulie Doucet, and Carol Tyler are not as well known but back in the early 1970s and 80s these artists were trailblazers in the counterculture community. Justin Green’s graphic novel, Binky Brown Meets the Holy Virgin Mary inspired Spiegelman to produce his genre shattering Holocaust memoir, Maus. A rare presentation of original drawings from Green’s stream of consciousness confessional about his Obsessive Compulsive Disorder closely aligned to his Catholic education will be on display.  Presented as an amusing coming of age tale, today’s viewer recognizes Binky’s (Justin’s) OCD but at the time it was written,Green’s book was considered blasphemy, something a “good Catholic” would never read let alone create.

Québécois artist Julie Doucet was associated with the Seattle underground group but has also worked in Berlin, Paris, and New York. Her raunchy comix earned her the respect as an equal among the male dominated constituency. Rutgers-Camden will include some of her early comix. Doucet settled in Quebec, left the comix world and now concentrates on collages, hand-printed books, and animated video shorts that will be displayed.

Carol Tyler contributed to the feminist comix Twisted Sister but today she is celebrated for her recent multi-volume graphic novel about her exploration of her father’s repressed memories as a WWII “G.I. Joe.” Her other autobiographical visual stories incorporate her marriages, spotty job history, and uphill efforts to function as a mother, wife, and child.

Unusual personal histories are revealed through original drawings for books created by artists David SmallEllen Forney, John “Derf” Backderf and Gilad Seliktar. In Stitches, David Small’s 1950s aspiring upper-middle class family unravels when his well-intentioned radiologist father over-radiated him causing juvenile thyroid cancer, his accidental discovery of the relationship between his mother and her female lover and a dementia-addled grandmother who put his well-being at serious risk. Forney’s Marbles: Mania, Depression, Michelangelo, and Me brings a unique perspective to bi-polar disorder. Through her drawings and text, she brings the viewer up close to her hair-raising manias and bottomless depressions, medications and talk therapy. Her drawings and journals will be in the form of an installation. Gilad Seliktar, an Israeli artist, illustrated, and his sister Galit, wrote the text for Farm 54. Both gleaned material from their idealistic upbringing in a kibbutz and from Galit’s complex emotional response to her experiences in military service.

John “Derf” Backderf’s drawings are from My Friend Dahmer, a first person account of his oddball Akron area high school friend, Jeffrey Dahmer, who became a high profile serial killer. Through Derf’s drawings as well as in other work,  “Derf” gives the viewer reason to ruminate upon the childhoods of other Ohio serial rapists and killers such as Michael Madison and Anthony Sewell and sexual predator-kidnapper Ariele Castro.

Peter KuperLance Tooks, and Sandy Jimenez have worked together on Kuper and Seth Tobocman’s World War 3 Illustrated politically charged journal. Kuper’s autobiographical graphic narratives are self-obsessed tales of youthful sexual exploration. Known for his 17-year stewardship of “Spy vs. Spy” in Mad Magazine, he publishes travel sketchbooks, most recently Diario de OaxacaTooks is celebrated for his lovely female alter ego, Narcissus, a self-reliant black woman who mystically disappears in the ocean near Spain’s enchanting Alhambra. Jimenez is a first generation American of Dominican Republic heritage and grew up in the Bronx badlands. His narratives speak to the dichotomy between his indigent neighborhood and his scholarship years at a privileged private high school and top-tier college education.

Artists working in other media include sculptors Melissa Stern and Mark Newport.  Stern’s Talking Cure consists of 12 ceramic sculptures with comix sensibilities. Each is enhanced by audios by 12 New York writers and read by 12 New York actors. The results are compelling and amusing confessional rants. Newport’s alter egos appear in the form of 8-foot long hand-knit superhero costumes that hang like skins. The Stedman Gallery will feature his less familiar characters including Argyleman, Sweaterman, and Y-man.  A video of his super-powered knitting accompanies the costumes.

Painters and printmakers include Arpita SinghHiro Sakaguchi, and Marcus BenavidesSingh is a mature Indian artist whose works on paper reference her male dominated society with subtle images and text that imply violence. Philaldelphia-based Sakaguchi’s pastel-colored landscape paintings recall his post nuclear 1960s childhood in Japan with sci-fi monsters and spaceships. Benavides recently settled in Philadelphia from Wisconsin. His large-scale black and white woodcuts reference the style of R. Crumb but suggest the saintliness of street people and are a counterpoint to Justin Green’s response to Catholicism.

Compulsive Narratives: Stories that MUST be Told” will run from January 16-April 26, 2014. at Rutgers-Camden Center for the Arts Stedman Gallery in Camden, New Jersey.  The reception date and related programs will be announced.  The project will include speakers and a film series related to graphic novels such as “Ghost World” and “Crumb.” A catalog will accompany the exhibition.  This exhibition and programs are made possible in part by funds from the New Jersey State Council on the Arts, the Consulate General of Israel to the Mid-Atlantic Region, and Rutgers, The State University of New Jersey. Updates, directions and hours are found at:

All events are FREE and will take place in the Stedman Gallery

There will be a reception with light refreshments following each event.                                              Parking will be available free of charge in Lots 13 & 14 during the events.

Original 1916 stained glass "Nipper" window from RCA Victor Building; Courtesy of the Camden County Historical Society

Original 1916 stained glass “Nipper” window from RCA Victor Building; Courtesy of the Camden County Historical Society; Photo by Bill Haas

January 29, 12:20 p.m. Lecture: Father Jeff Putthoff

Father Jeff Putthoff, SJ has lived and worked in Camden, NJ for the
last thirteen years. He is the founder and Executive Director of
Hopeworks ‘N Camden, a youth technology portal using the technologies of
web site design/development and Geographic Information Systems (GIS) to
work with youth ages 14-23 in Camden New Jersey. Father Puthoff will speak on his role as community leader in Camden and his recent initiative with the symbol of the cross as a way of providing healing and awareness.

February 12 12:20 p.m. Round Table:                                                                                                                                                     Vibiana Cvetkovic and Daniel Sidorick

Vibiana Cvetkovicwill speak about the RCA glass window and Nipper as a mascot;                      Daniel Sidorick will speak about the Campbell Soup water towers.
Daniel Sidorick is the author of Condensed Capitalism: Campbell Soup
and the Pursuit of Cheap Production in the Twentieth Century, published
by Cornell University Press. The New Jersey Historical Commission
awarded the book the Richard P. McCormick Prize. Sidorick has taught at
Temple University, the College of New Jersey, and Rutgers University New
Brunswick, where he is currently teaching a course on the history of New
Jersey workers.

Vibiana Cvetkovic is a Reference Librarian and the head of Access and
Collection Services at the Paul Robeson Library, Rutgers University in
Camden, New Jersey. Ms. Cvetkovic is Chair of the Children and Childhood
Studies Area of the Mid-Atlantic Popular/American Culture Association,
and an Associate of the Center for Children and Childhood Studies at
Rutgers University.


Charlene Mires Associate Professor of History and Director of the
Mid-Atlantic Regional Center for the Humanities (MARCH) at

February 19 12:20 p.m Round Table:                                                                                                                                                 Howard Gillette and Paul Jargowsky

Howard Gillette will speak about Camden’s 2012 homicide rate and the response of the crosses to that calamity. Paul Jargowsky will speak about the Carnegie Library as a symbol of disinvestment in Camden.

Howard Gillette is Professor of History Emeritus at Rutgers
University-Camden, and specialized in modern U.S. history, with a
special interest in urban and regional development. His book, Camden
After the Fall: Decline and Renewal in a Post-Industrial City, also
published by the University of Pennsylvania Press (2005), received best
book awards from the Urban History Association and the New Jersey
Historical Commission.

Paul Jargowsky is Professor of Public Policy and Director, Center for
Urban Research and Urban Education at Rutgers-Camden. His principal
research interests are inequality, the geographic concentration of
poverty, and residential segregation by race and class. Jargowsky has
also been involved in policy development at both the state and federal


Charlene Mires Associate Professor of History and Director of the
Mid-Atlantic Regional Center for the Humanities (MARCH) at

February 14, 4 p.m. Artist’s lecture: Camilo Vergara 

Camilo José Vergara is a Chilean-born, New York-based writer,
photographer and documentarian. Beginning in the 1980s, Vergara applied
the technique of re-photography to a series of American cities,
photographing the same buildings and neighborhoods from the exact
vantage point at regular intervals over many years to capture changes
over time. Camden, NJ is just one of these cities.

February 21, 5 p.m. Fred Barnum

Followed by the Rutgers-Camden Jazz Ensemble

Parking available in lots 13 and 14 free of charge 4-8 p.m.
Fred Barnum, business development manager for Camden’s L-3 Communications Systems, is a Camden County Historical Society Trustee and author of His Master’s Voice In America (1991), an illustrated history of the enterprise that began in 1901 as the Victor Talking Machine Company, then became RCA-Victor.
The Rutgers-Camden Jazz Ensemble, led by Rutgers-Camden Professor Eric Polack, will offer a selection of tunes from the RCA-Victor playlist.

A View from The Bridge by Mickey McGrath
A View from The Bridge by Mickey McGrath

January 14-March 1 2013

Closed Monday January 21

Opening Reception: Thursday, January 17, 2013

                                      Artist Talk w/Mickey McGrath

                                      3rd Thursday Art Crawl in Camden

Visions of Camden presents varied means of looking at Camden- its past, its present and its possible future – through the filter of lenses turned fleetingly on different times. This exhibit examines moments in the history of the city in a number of different ways: through the eyes of painters and draftsmen through which color and form often return magic to the cityscape. Artifacts from the city’s residential and industrial history, including discoveries from the site of the new Rutgers-Camden dormitory on Cooper Street, will engage visitors in exploring and reconstructing the past.

Postcard: Greetings from Camden
Enlarged Postcard: Greetings from Camden
The oil paintings of William (Bill) M. Hoffman Jr. and the en plein air sketches of Mickey McGrath offer an impressionistic vision of Camden. Suffused with the light that bounces off surfaces, rounding the edges of the views described, awash in warm colors, the paintings and drawings of these visual artists lend the city of Camden the transformative gaze of the earlier Impressionist and post-Impressionist artists. The impressionist gaze transcribed the glance, the fleeting movement of the eyes alighting upon a scene, only to be drawn to the next beckoning view.

The exhibition project Visions of Camden explores this way of looking at Camden, its past, its present, and its possible future through the filter of lenses turned fleetingly on different times. Taking the impressionistic vision as a metaphor, the exhibition offers other visual mediums that have captured the transient at different moments in their technological development. Glass slides, photographs, prints, and digital montages of time-based photography are complemented by other two-dimensional renderings of space and time: maps, postcards and posters that introduce various ways of representing what a city might have been and what it might become. Prying open the ways of knowing—and supplementing the way of knowing offered through visual representations—objects from the city’s history act as windows to the past from which they have been conserved; the glimpses through these windows are also impressionistic in that they cannot provide a complete picture of what was.

Original photograph of the building of the Benjamin Franklin Bridge by George A. Wonfor

Original photograph of the building of the Benjamin Franklin Bridge by George A. Wonfor

From its origins as a ferry landing in the eighteenth century, Camden—named after Charles Pratt, Earl of Camden, an English supporter of constitutional rights for Americans, by Jacob Cooper, a Philadelphia merchant who in 1764 purchased and developed a forty-acre site near where his grandfather William Cooper had settled a century earlier—grew into an industrial powerhouse, the home to well-known enterprises, including RCA Victor and the Campbell Soup Company. Like many northeastern cities, Camden suffered the decline of industry and the departure of many residents to the suburbs following World War II. Today the city and its people, its residents and those who work in the city, are rebuilding a base of educational and medical institutions and strengthening existing neighborhoods. The Stedman Gallery’s exhibition proposes ways of envisioning moments in the history of the city: through the eyes of visual artists whose manipulation of color and form often return magic to the cityscape; and through the more realistic and unforgiving eyes of the photographer’s camera. Artifacts from the city’s residential and industrial history, including discoveries from the site of the new Rutgers-Camden dormitory on Cooper Street, propose glimpses into the domestic life of early, mostly anonymous, residents; the stained-glass Nipper that identified the RCA Victor tower, remounted for this exhibit, signals an enduring icon of the past.

RCA Victrola jigsaw puzzle

RCA Victrola jigsaw puzzle

Through the visual and the material to the knowledge and methodology of academic disciplines, inspired by the art and artifacts on exhibit, community members, historians, archaeologists, and urban policy scholars offer and invite insights into the city’s past and its prospects.

This exhibition is a collaboration between the Stedman Gallery (Rutgers-Camden Center for the Arts) and MARCH (Mid-Atlantic Regional Center for the Humanities).

Ornament and Narrative
Women Artists of Eastern Diasporas:                               
A Poetry reading by and conversation with Dr. Rafey Habib, Professor of English at Rutgers-Camden, in relation to the Ornament and Narrative exhibition.


  When: Thursday, December 6th  12:20 pm

Where:  The Stedman Gallery, Rutgers-Camden Rafey Habib

 Reception immediately following


Dr. M.A.R. Habib (Rafey Habib) is a scholar in the areas of literary criticism, theory and philosophy. He is the author of seven books, including a volume of poetry, Shades of Islam: Poems for a New Century, published by Kube in September 2010. His interests extend to Islamic philosophy and literature, as well as postcolonial studies. Dr Habib will read some of his poetry and discuss the work in the exhibition.

Check out the link below of the review of the RCCA’s latest exhibit Ornament and Narrative Women Artists of Eastern Diasporas in the Courier Post!|newswell|text|FRONTPAGE|s

Les Femmes du Maroc: La Grande Odalisque, 2008
chromogenic print mounted to aluminum, 48×60 in.


About the Exhibit:

Ornament and Narrative:Women Artists of Eastern Diasporas features the work of Roya Akhavan, Najla Arafa, Siona Benjamin, Lalla Essaydi, Sissi Farassat, Naomi Safran-Hon, Soody Sharifi, Mitra Tabrizian and Shahar Yahalom. This exhibition brings together women from the East, most of whom live abroad, whose contact with other cultures transforms the artistic traditions that travel with them.


2012, archival inkjet print, lace and cement

Absent Present: Wadi Salib 16, 2012 archival inkjet print, lace and cement

Absent presence,” an artist’s talk by Naomi Safran-Hon
4 p.m. Thursday November 29
reception to follow
The Stedman Gallery, Rutgers-Camden

Naomi Safran-Hon has focused her work on the “absent presence,” implied by images of houses abandoned by Palestinian Arabs who remained in Israel, but left their homes in her native Haifa when the state of Israel was established in 1948. She transforms photographs of interiors with lace and cement, sometimes painting with the latter to create powerfully evocative images of displacement, absence, conflict and memory.

Naomi Safran-Hon was born in Oxford, England, in 1984, and grew up in Haifa, Israel; she currently lives in New York. She received her BA Summa Cum Laude from Brandeis University, 2008 in Studio Art and Art History and an MFA from Yale University School of Art in 2010. She has received numerous awards and has exhibited extensively in Israel and in the United States.

For additional Rutgers-Camden programming visit

Lilith in the New World (detail), 2007, Mixed media, 144 x 120 x 48 in.,
Courtesy of Flomenhaft Gallery, New York

Artist lecture is to take place Thursday November 15th, 4:00 p.m. reception to follow at The Stedman Gallery.

The painter Siona Benjamin, who resides in New Jersey, will discuss the ideas animating her work as well as how her cultural heritage has influenced her practice. “I am an artist originally from Bombay, India, of Bene Israel Jewish descent. My work reflects my background and the transition between my old and new worlds.” Her work in Ornament and Narrative features the installation Lilith and paintings from her recent series Improvisation that draw on traditional images, cultural references and styles from her Indian-Jewish heritage, transformed through her own unique, contemporary pop cultural sensibility. The work synthesizes seemingly disparate elements from her rich multi-cultural background, and elements of both her old and new worlds.

Ornament and Narrative: Women Artists of Eastern Diasporas features the work of Roya Akhavan, Najla Arafa, Siona Benjamin, Lalla Essaydi, Sissi Farassat, Naomi Safran-Hon, Soody Sharifi, Mitra Tabrizian and Shahar Yahalom, artists originally from countries stretching from Morocco to India. Within this vast region, indigenous and local cultures have developed that distinguish these societies from their neighbors. None of them is immune or impervious to the pressures of modern transformations—the Arab Spring being the most recent modernizing wave engulfing parts of this world. The Stedman Gallery at The Rutgers-Camden Center for the Arts is presenting this exhibition until December 15, 2012.






Check out the link below! It shows a time lapse video of the installation of one of the beautiful pieces currently on view at the Stedman Gallery. Enjoy the video…then come see the work in person!


ORNAMENT AND NARRATIVE: Women Artists of Eastern Diasporas
October 15 – December 15, 2012

The countries and societies stretching from Morocco to India—parts of which are known variously as the Middle East, North Africa, and/or the Fertile Crescent–both share histories and traditions—political, social, religious and cultural—and have developed indigenous and local cultures that distinguish them from their neighbors. None of these societies is immune or impervious to the pressures of modern transformations—the Arab Spring being the most recent modernizing wave engulfing parts of this world. One of the factors of change is mobility: the ability to travel, to visit, or to settle in another place and to find or create community, constituting, thereby, a diaspora that is more often than not the site of acculturation and adaptation to a new society. One of the loci of transformation, as well as the agent of change, is woman to whom this exhibit looks as a consumer, transformer and producer of culture. This exhibition brings together women from the East—as defined above—most of whom live or work abroad, whose contact with other cultures transforms the artistic traditions that travel with them.

This exhibit proposes two streams, ornament and narrative, that animate the work of the participating artists. Strictures against figurative representation have been, to varying degrees and at different moments in history, a part of Muslim, Christian and Jewish cultures and societies. This proscription against the figure has given birth to a culture of the ornament, to the development of intricate geometric and organic patterns, often wedded to a bold use of color, that has characterized the fine and applied arts, architectural details, and the embellishment of printed works.  There have been, of course, less strict interpretations of the injunction against the representation of the figure that have allowed for non-religious figures set in secular narratives. Each of the artists selected has transformed one or both of these traditional approaches with a modernizing touch that delights the viewer in presenting a tradition transformed in a visually engaging image, and which contributes to a deepened understanding of the culture from which they emerge.

Untitled IV (from Nexus), 2009 by Roya Akhavan

Soody Sharifi’s work in this exhibit, selected from her Persian Delights series, has introduced a saturated monochromatic background to figures engaged in a daily activity; the clothing of the figures or the objects with which they are engaged are imprinted with a rich and engaging pattern, establishing a contrast with the emphatic color field.

Roya Akhavan’s paintings from her Nexus series propose richly layered intertwining figures and motifs, recalling the interlaced ornaments of earlier historic moments, but approached by the artist in a much more lyrical way. The relationship between figure and ground is rendered in a much more complex way and the traditional approach to symmetry is thrown slightly off-balance.

Mitra Trabizian’s film work The Predator tackles the tensions of contemporary life in the diaspora, using English as the lingua franca of its protagonists drawn from different North African and Middle Eastern countries that do not share a common language. The film also tackles perceptions that the West projects onto the East, a hold over from the Orientalism of the 19th century, augmented in the recent clashes of cultures.

Siona Benjamin’s installations and paintings draw on traditional images, cultural references and styles from her Indian Jewish heritage,  transformed through her own unique, contemporary pop cultural sensibility. The work presented here , with its rich synthesis of seemingly disparate elements from her rich multi-cultural background, and elements of both her old, and new worlds, includes her large installation “Lilith in the New World,” and several recent “Improvisations.”

Lalla Essaydi, who transgresses many gender-based strictures of Muslim culture in her work,  creates complex, exquisitely-detailed photographic tableaux that reference, destabilize and transform stereotypical images, with many drawn from 19th century Orientalist paintings,  of the “exotic” Middle-Eastern woman. In her work, she carefully poses her women subjects in traditional Muslim dress, covers all surfaces with a personal calligraphic text written in henna, and then creates large-scale color photographs that challenge our preconceptions and reframe our vision.

Shahar Yaholom, an Israeli artist now working in New York, creates dream-like, fantasy images and objects in a variety of media. Her drawings, such as those exhibited here, bring together gothic, mythical, landscape and aquatic images to create emotionally-evocative, multi-layered narratives.

The artists:

  •  Siona Benjamin (India), lives and works in New Jersey
  •  Lalla Eassaydi (Morocco) lives and works in New York
  •  Sissi Ferassat (Iran) lives and works in Vienna
  •  Naomi Safran-Hon (Israel) lives and works in New York
  •  Roya Akhavan (Iran) lives and works in New York
  •  Soody Sharifi (Iran) lives and works in Houston
  •  Najla Arafa (Egypt) lives and studies in Saudi Arabia
  •  Mitra Tabrizian (Iran) lives and works in London
  •  Shahar Yaholam (Israel) lives and works in New York

Ornament and Narrative is presented by Rutgers-Camden Center for the Arts in conjunction with The Fertile Crescent: Gender, Art, and Society, a program of Rutgers Institute for Women and Art (


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