This piece by Stafford Smith is part of a display that explores the meanings of family in the postmodern world.

The UC Blue Ash College Art Gallery presents Narrative Portraiture, a new exhibition that features the works of five accomplished artists who share their stories through drawing, painting, photography and video.


Narrative Portraiture will be on display through March 3, 2017 at the UC Blue Ash Art Gallery, located in the Annex Building at 4131 Cooper Road in Blue Ash. There will be an opening reception, open to the public and with free refreshments, on Friday, February 10 from 5:00 – 8:00 pm.


The exhibition focuses on portraiture that does more than simply reflect the physical appearance of the human subject. These works tell stories through the many visual elements that have been layered into the image around the human subjects. Each of the artists has discovered a unique and powerful way to utilize the narrative features of the common portrait image.


The artists include: Kathryn Jill Johnson (Huntsville, AL); Melanie Johnson (Prairie Village, KS); Boryana Rusenova-Ina (Columbus, OH); Stafford Smith (Grand Rapids, MI); and William Paul Thomas (Chapel Hill, NC).


Kathryn Jill Johnson invests her drawings with a light, comic touch that nevertheless reverberates with melancholy and mystery. She has exhibited her work widely and teaches at the University of Alabama. Melanie Johnson teaches at the University of Central Missouri and presents a body of work that is psychologically complex and filled with the moody light of Rembrandt. Boryana Rusenova-Ina initially builds her images as physical dioramas, which she then renders as paintings of familiar autobiographical scenes that have an odd strangeness about them. Stafford Smith became a photographer after a long career in television and presents in his extended series of “remixed” family portraits that explores the multiple meanings of family in the postmodern world. William Paul Smith has been widely recognized for his work, which explores the human face as a symbol for human difference and similarity in the context of discussion about race, class and individuality.


“The narrative storytelling embedded in the varied portraits of this exhibition offers tantalizing but inconclusive glimpses of others through the reflective filter of the self,” says co-curator H. Michael Sanders, who is the chair of the Electronic Communications Department at UC Blue Ash. “We are pressed to offer interpretation and to decode meaning at every turn, despite the blithe appearances of mundane familiarity at the heart of each of these works.”


Gallery hours are Monday through Friday from 9:00 a.m. – 5:00 p.m. and Saturdays 10:00 a.m. – 2:00 p.m. throughout the exhibition. A full-color print catalogue of Narrative Portraiture is available in the gallery.


More information about the exhibition, including the exhibition catalogue in PDF format, is available on the UC Blue Ash College Art Gallery webpage at


UC Blue Ash College is a regional college within the University of Cincinnati.  It offers one of the best values in higher education with access to a nationally recognized UC education in nearly 50 degrees and certificates,  as well as tuition that is about half of most colleges and universities. The college is located on a scenic 135-acre wooded campus in the heart of Blue Ash, Ohio. To learn more, call (513) 745-5600, visit us online at, like us on Facebook, or follow us on Twitter and Instagram. 


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