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Artists world allows you to be storyteller
‘Fox in the Mirror’ by artist Lillian Porter uses figurines from the artist’s childhood, similar to many pieces by Porter on view in the Simmons Visual Arts Center at Brenau University beginning Tuesday. - photo by For The Times

Liliana Porter

Installation video, photographs and mixed media

When: Opens Tuesday; artist talk, 6 p.m. Feb. 19; reception, 6:30 to 8 p.m. Feb. 19; exhibit 10 a.m. to 4 p.m. Tuesdays-Fridays, 2 to 5 p.m. Sundays. Tuesday-March 29, closed March 1-8

Where: Simmons Visual Arts Center, Brenau University, 500 Washington St. SE, Gainesville

More info: 770-534-6263 or

In one drawing, a miniature man is leaving his country cottage, headed out for the great unknown — literally, as his winding road of simple lines weaves off into the white canvas.

In a photo nearby, a purple figurine lies broken on the floor ... and is also seen, intact and unharmed, affixed to the picture frame.

Such are the unfinished stories told by photos and paintings by Liliana Porter, on display starting Tuesday at Brenau University’s Simmons Visual Arts Center in Gainesville.

The artist, originally from Argentina, specializes in taking toys and figurines and placing them in situations where the viewer is left to determine their next move.

"Her mother was a poet and her father was a filmmaker, so there’s a real creative, storytelling feel to her work," said Gallery Director Vanessa Grubbs. "The idea behind her work, in summary, is she sets up a situation that’s kind of vague but looks like there’s a story to it and you the viewer create the story."

Porter began to move from printmaking to mixed-medium work in the 1970s, often depicting objects from her childhood. Since the 1980s, she has been incorporating painting, silk-screen collage and actual objects into her work.

The show also has received grants from the Georgia Humanities Council and the Georgia Grassroots Arts Council to be shown as a bilingual exhibition. The signs and catalog are printed in English and Spanish, Grubbs said, in an effort to involve more of the area’s Hispanic population.

Also, the exhibit is part of Brenau’s Museum Education Program, in which students in area schools get docent-led tours and experience a corresponding art project for themselves.

"Generally, for a Museum Education Program Show, we try to bring in the biggest-name artist we can, and Liliana Porter had been someone we had been talking with for a number of years," Grubbs said. "She shows internationally. ... These are works from throughout her career. She’s moved more towards sculptural installations."

But because the gallery’s walls, until the school’s winter break, were covered in carpeting, Grubbs said they chose two-dimensional objects from her collection because they would be easier to install.

"And then we have a video that’s going to play that has a lot of these same figurines that you see in the show interacting with music that her friend composed for the video," Grubbs added. "So, it’s very fun."