Covington Shows Art Exhibit Celebrating Dorothy Gillespie

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Margaret Pittman | mpittman9@radford.edu 

World-famous artist Dorothy Gillespie is getting celebrated by the College of Visual & Performing Arts with an opening celebration to remember her dedicated work in the art industry.

The Dorothy Gillespie Centennial Exhibition was opened on Sept. 21 for fans of art and to show her accomplishments over the decades.

With special guest, Gary Israel (Dorothy’s son) was introduced to the visitors as help to discuss her accomplishments in her lifetime.

Radford wanted to honor the pioneering sculptor, painter, and installation artist that attended the college by featuring her work in the University Art Museum at the Covington Center. 

Since she came from somewhere so local, it is cool that someone became so successful.

Gillespie wrote, “I attempt to portray imminent movement and energy, manipulating colors, and materials available every day today so that the eye can carry some mystical message to the soul.”At the exhibition, there was a lot of the same type of sculptures. It was almost like each one was similar and were apart of a theme. They were very radiant and abstract; different from what I have seen before from someone of her age.

A lot of the artwork was of a ribbon-like style made with the use of electric metal shears to create the narrow shape. I read that the material was made mostly of anodized aluminum. This type of metal allows the color to go on smooth, and it can shape into a ribbon. 

She then, later on, moved onto using Mylar and vinyl.

Dorothy Gillespie
Detailed view of Gillespie’s technique on ribbons at the Covington Center. Photo Credit: (Margaret Pittman | The Tartan)

Gillespie wrote, “I attempt to portray imminent movement and energy, manipulating colors, and materials available every day today so that the eye can carry some mystical message to the soul.”

Gillespie was primarily known for her big, colorful, metal sculptures. With having an early beginning, a lot of her peers did not support her in engaging a career in art, especially her parents, but she started to pursue her career anyway.

Gillespie seemed very ahead of her time. She started to begin her vibrant trademark in the 1940s.

Not only did she stand out in the art world, but her son also explained how she was an activist in the women’s rights movement. In 1972, she became an artist-in-residence at the Women’s Interart Center and as a lecturer at the New School for Social Research.

During her lifetime, Gillespie was awarded the Women’s Caucus for Art its Outstanding Services award in 2001. She has inspired many young women and students who may doubt a profession in art.

“I think we all have a mission in life; I keep telling students that they’re privileged because they’re involved in art. I get rewarded in knowing that the world is still going to go on and that people are still going to do art. These young people at Radford might be the very ones who are going to change the world with their work.”

Gillespie’s artwork and attire are on display until Dec. 6 at the Covington Center.

For more stories about Radford art, stay connected with your Tartan newspaper.

Photo Credit: (Radford University – College of Visual and Performing Arts)

Margaret Pittman

Hello, I am Margaret. I am a freshman at Radford and like to write a little too.