This pencil drawing is arranged over nine identically sized rectangular, vertically oriented spaces, three up and three across, spaced equally apart (and matted). Drawings are visible in the all of the spaces except for the center top and right center rows. The drawings are done with fine lines and hatching, and incorporate both human features and natural elements including tree branches, grass and leaves. Each drawing incorporates large areas of white negative space, which along with the blank rectangles, help to unite the work visually. Starting in the upper left rectangle is a image of a face with the eyes squeezed shut, lips closed and strong lines on either side of the nose to the corners of the mouth; the next rectangle is blank and the far right rectangle is another image of a face with eyes open and looking at the viewer, lips closed, and lines on either side of the nose to the corners of the mouth. In the rectangle on the left side of the center row of rectangles, there is a face with a toothy grin, laughing eyes, and organic, grass-like hair rising away from her face. In the center rectangle we see a face with eyes open and mouth closed, and branch like material emerging from on and above the forehead. The rightmost rectangle of the row is blank. On the bottom row, the rectangle at the left contains a recumbent face emerging and surrounded by a backdrop of organic, grass-like material. The position allows for the viewer to see the bottom of the chin and the underside of the nose; the eyes are shut. The center rectangle contains two different camouflaged faces. The one on the left is also supine in orientation, and the one on the right is barely discernible among the organic foliage, evident mostly through a pair of full lips seen near the bottom of the drawing. The final rightmost rectangle of the row contains a supine face emerging from moss-like material in which the eyes are closed, the underside of the nose is visible, and the full mouth is closed.
Gemma Rossini Cullen (1937-2004) was born in Saint Paul, MN. She received a B.A. from the College of St. Catherine (now St. Catherine University) in 1960 and an B.F.A. from Minneapolis College of Art and Design in 1969. She became a member of the Sisters of Saint Joseph of Carondelet in 1955 and exited in 1967. She married Walter Cullen in 1969. The couple had two children, Enrique and Tonya, and remained married until her death in 2004. Gemma's work includes large-format paintings and drawings. It routinely depicts women, nature, architectural elements, and abstract forms, at times with an emphasis on repetitive morphing or mutating imagery, and an incorporation of negative space. Like many women were emerging from the Catholic religious community in the 1960s, Gemma was questioning the ways in which the church had marginalized the role of women within its community in the past and, as an ex-sister, exploring new versions of what it meant to be a woman in the present and going forward. In Gemma's case, this meant exploring creating art for women. Gemma was influenced in her exploration by the writings of Carl Jung and his exploration of global cultural histories and archetypal realities. The archetype [and transformation thereof] Gemma was most interested in was that of the Goddess, and she explored this subject in many of her works. As she continued to evolve as an artist, her interest in metamorphosis grew, and she would eventually create a number of successful drawings depicting this concept. In 1992 Rossini Cullen founded her own company, Business Graphics Network. She worked there until 2004 in graphic design, sales, and production. She was a founding member of the Women's Art Registry of Minnesota (WARM) Gallery from 1976 to 1987. Rossini Cullen's domestic exhibitions included venues at the College of St. Catherine, North Hennepin Community College, and Minneapolis Community College, the WARM Gallery in Minneapolis, and the McCrae Gallery at Western New Mexico University in Silver City, New Mexico. Her work is part of collections throughout the United States including Gila Regional Medical Center, Silver City, University of Minnesota Law School, Saint Joseph's Hospital, Saint Paul, Saint Paul Chamber of Commerce, Minnesota Museum of American Art, Federal Reserve Bank, Minneapolis, Dorcy Marquart Law Firm, Minneapolis, and Cardiac Pacemaker, Inc., Saint Paul. Gemma also produced a major suite of drawings for two books, Coulee Deep, poems by Lois Sindelar, Extended Exposure Press, 203, and Twin Cities Perceived, text by Jean Adams Ervin a study of words and drawings, published by University Minnesota Press, 1976. 1,2(Erickson, Elizabeth. (2009). Gemma: Tales of Change. Saint Paul, MN: St. Catherine University.)
Gift of Rossini Cullen Family Estate
pen and ink
23 x 30 inches
Rossini Cullen, Gemma, “Long Thought,” Digital Collections From St Kate's, accessed December 6, 2023, https://omeka.reclaim.stkate.edu/items/show/3568.
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