January 10, 2020
On view: January 11–March 7, 2019
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Making art for more than forty years, Christine Oatman has created work ranging from large-scale outdoor work and public art projects to intricate assemblages. Her upcoming exhibition at the Athenaeum is an installation that loosely replicates a 1950’s elementary school classroom. Stories of Innocence and Experience comprises twelve tableaux as stand-ins for learning in an actual classroom. Each tableau contains mid-century children’s books that have been altered with the addition of contemporary content. These altered books determine the thematic essence of each tableau. The body of work reflects Oartman’s private responses to topical issues through the lens of pedagogy, based on decades of teaching experience, as well as her classroom memories growing up in 1950s San Diego. The touchstone of this project is William Blake’s Songs of Innocence and Experience which was written, etched, printed, and hand-colored by the artist in the late 18th-century.