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Small Worlds: Carolyn Cárdenas  and Contradictions: Bobby Ross

August 23 - December 10, 2022


This exhibition features over 200 paintings and drawings by two artists, Carolyn Cárdenas and Bobby Ross, both of whom were influenced by the techniques of the great Renaissance masters. Working in highly detailed and time-intensive methods — which in themselves are meant to convey serious messages — Cárdenas' and Ross' artworks examine the world through a social and civic lens.


The tiny egg tempera paintings and intricate drawings of Cárdenas depict social issues and are sophisticated and richly metaphorical. Many of her paintings in the exhibition are less than 5 inches square and are painted with a one- or three-haired brush. She portrays snapshots of domestic interiors and complex urban scenes that tell a big story packed into its small size. The oil paintings and graphite drawings of Ross are distinguished by meticulous detail and a magical and photographic realism tempered with humor. The principal theme in his work is contradiction, such as good battles evil, harmony dances with discord, and truth confronts lies. He reorders reality to get his ideas and emotions across by using an illusionistic narrative to convey his message. His random imagery poses questions for the viewer to find their own meaning.


Victoria Berry, OSU Museum of Art Director and Chief Curator


Funding for this program is provided in part by a grant from Oklahoma Humanities (OH) and the National Endowment for the Humanities (NEH). Any views, findings, conclusions, or recommendations expressed in this program do not necessarily represent those of OH or NEH. 

Additional funding is provided through the generous support of Deb and Dave Engle, Caroline and John Linehan, Suzanne Sugg, the OSU President’s Office | OSU Foundation, Thomas N. Berry & Company, and the OSUMA Art Advocates.



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