This circular image is composed of human and bird figures in overlapping layers. In the foreground, a human face looks past the viewer into the distance. The human has a bare head and a serene look on its face. Its hands are raised in front of its face and it holds in between its fingers a small frame or window. In this frame is a small bird mid-flight with outstretched wings. The bird is placed in front of the human's mouth. In the background is another, more ethereal, faint image of a human face. Again, in front of the human's mouth are bird-like figures. The background contains other ethereal and abstract figures. The image is composed of pen marks of varying thickness, length and direction. The interplay of lightness and darkness is balanced throughout the composition.
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
19 x 19 inches
Rossini Cullen, Gemma, “Speak Peace,” Digital Collections From St Kate's, accessed December 8, 2023, https://omeka.reclaim.stkate.edu/items/show/3571.
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