CWU News

‘Roote Wordes’ art exhibit opens April 6 at Sarah Spurgeon Gallery

A sample piece from artist Rob Rhee's art exhibit

A sample piece from artist Rob Rhee's art exhibit, "Roote Wordes," which will be on display in the Sarah Spurgeon Gallery from April 6-29.

The Sarah Spurgeon Gallery at Central Washington University will be hosting an exhibition of new work by artist Rob Rhee next month, and the community is invited to attend through April 29.

An opening event for "Roote Wordes" is scheduled for Thursday, April 6, when Rhee—an assistant professor of interdisciplinary visual art at the University of Washington—will give an artist talk from 4 to 5 p.m. in Randall Hall, room 117. 

The talk will be moderated by Matthew Martinson, who is writing curriculum coordinator and a Lecturer of Honors in the CWU William O. Douglas Honors College. A reception will follow in the Sarah Spurgeon Gallery (Randall Hall, room 141) from 5 to 7 p.m. The exhibit is co-sponsored by the CWU Department of English.

Rhee’s work is inspired by animist texts and experiences. "Roote Wordes" explores language as an emergent phenomenon, highlighting dreamlike encounters with natural materials. For example, blackberry roots turned sculptures are arranged in dioramas akin to the wildlife habitat displays of natural history museums. These dioramas imagine a nearby world, an animate landscape clicking and turning with language.

Rhee’s poem Beringia, an in-progress text that will be written and rewritten over the exhibition, is expressed in foam on the gallery’s outer walls. In concert with the dioramas and allegorical poem, an artificial network trained on the blackberry roots is used to generate an animation titled present world lyves space.

Rhee’s artwork encompasses sculpture, performance, and critical writing. He has exhibited nationally at the Portland Art Museum; the Hunterdon Art Museum in New Jersey; White Columns in New York; Fort Worth Contemporary Arts in Texas; and the Korean Cultural Center in Los Angeles. He has also exhibited internationally at the 10th Berlin Biennale in Germany and the Ilmin Museum of Art in South Korea. 

Rhee received his Master of Fine Arts in sculpture and new genres from Columbia University in 2010 and has been a member of the University of Washington faculty since 2020.

Sarah Spurgeon Gallery is located in Randall Hall on Dean Nicholson Boulevard and is open weekdays from 10 a.m. to 3 p.m., and on Saturdays from 1-5 p.m. 

Media contact: Heather Johnson, Gallery Manager, 509-963-4153 or