Leaded: The Materiality and Metamorphosis of Graphite

April 24, 2009 - August 2, 2009

Scott Galleries

Drawing lives!  The humble medium of graphite and the practice of drawing, long a foundation of the pictorial arts, partner in this exhibition to surprise you with their versatility.  This is graphite like you’ve never seen it before (for instance, it doesn’t have to be a “drawing”), yet its very diversity accurately reflects the spirit of testing and experimentation that characterizes much contemporary art.

Featured artist Creighton Michael will be our guest in Billings for the opening reception on Thursday, May 14th.  At 6:30 he will discuss his work in a talk called “Tangible Drawing: The Works of Creighton Michael.”

Lead sponsor: Kris & Larry Carpenter

Supporting sponsors: Buchanan Capital, LLC, and Gary & Norma Buchanan; Hohn Engineering, LLC, celebrating its 25th anniversary; the Charles M. Bair Family Trust; and an anonymous donor.


With enormous technological advances occurring around the world, traditional and time-honored vehicles of expression—such as picking up a pencil and making a mark—must work to reinvent themselves in an effort to maintain relevance in the twenty-first century.  This new paradigm of relevance extends through many aspects of life including traditional art forms such as drawing. Leaded: The Materiality and Metamorphosis of Graphite reveals how successfully the centuries-old medium of graphite has made the leap into the present.

The art of drawing with a pencil is an extremely accessible pursuit, easily understood and enjoyed by young and old alike.  In Leaded a dizzying range of artistic styles are tied together by “nowness” and the medium of graphite.  The creativity expressed by these artists redefines what can be accomplished with such a simple medium.

This exhibition features approximately 44 works of art by 16 international contemporary artists who use the physical nature and characteristics of graphite and pencils as content in their two-and three-dimensional work.  Leaded presents work grouped into three overlapping themes:

  • Graphite as Content: In these artworks the subject matter is seamlessly merged with the graphite medium, with its coloristic and tactile qualities.  Works range from minimalist drawings to primordial and recognizable “landscapes.
  • Graphite as Transformative Agent: These two- and three-dimensional objects are made of materials that are transformed through the application or removal of graphite.
  • Graphite as Sculpture: These pieces employ graphite and/or pencils as sculptural raw material within a conceptual framework or systematic formation.

This exhibition has been curated by N. Elizabeth Shlatter, Deputy Director and Curator of Exhibitions at the University of Richmond, Virginia, for International Arts & Artists, Washington, DC.  The national tour includes, in addition to the Yellowstone Art Museum, the Joel and Lila Harnett Museum of Art in Richmond, Virginia; the Bedford Gallery in Walnut Creek, California; Western Washington University Gallery, Bellingham, Washington; Salina Art Center, Salina, Kansas; the Baum Gallery at the University of Central Arkansas, Conway, Arkansas; Art Museum of South Texas, Corpus Christi, Texas, the Memorial Art Gallery at the University of Rochester, Rochester, New York; and the Palmer Museum of Art, University Park, Pennsylvania.