In the Berkeley Art Museum collections, representations of the human figure populate a lively community of personages, actual or imagined. They narrate tales, reference scripture, evoke events, memories, and attitudes. Figurations, a changing exhibition on view in Gallery 4, brings together a selection of historical and recent paintings, photographs, and sculptures to consider a variety of perspectives on the human form. Enveloped in an energetic swirl of drapery, Diego Carlone's St. Joseph cradles the Christ Child in his arms. The early-eighteenth-century carved wood sculpture, which was intended for a public space and to be viewed from slightly below, is sparing in corporeal detail, avoiding individualized physiognomies. Rather, the forms represent their spiritual context-in an upward spiral of motion, the figures seem almost to launch heavenward. Jean-Baptiste Carpeaux's late-nineteenth-century bronze Bust of Africa was created as a study for his monumental public fountain that now stands in the Luxembourg Gardens in Paris. It was one of four continental personifications holding aloft a globe, the idealized “portraits” of Africa, America, Asia, and Europe, representing a liberal humanist view for the time. A century later and halfway across the world, Darius Homay conflated aspects of his multicultural heritage with western pop culture in Krishna and the Gopis (2001). In this textile-based installation he compresses symbols of East and West, old and new in elegantly printed fabrics. A sari-wrapped “figure” embodies a conflation of place and time in a marriage of cultural portraits. Figurations invites some unexpected conversations between works of art. George Segal's life-size Girl Looking into Mirror (1970) portrays a quiet monumentality that originates in everyday happenstance. A woman's demure gaze, cast indirectly through the reflection in a mirror, calls us into the private space of her contemplation. She is cast from life, and yet de-individualized enough to stand in for any of us. At her side in the exhibition, a neat young boy poses rather stiffly, gazing with self-conscious directness at the viewer. His portraitist, possibly the early American folk artist John Brewster, probably added individualizing features to a depiction of the more general characteristics of the boy's geographic region and social class in late-eighteenth-century New England. Kim Abeles's Letters from Kosai(1979), a new acquisition in the BAMPFA collections, presents a different kind of portrait. Kosai, a Shingon Buddhist priest, was a mentor to Abeles when she was a young foreign exchange student in Japan. After her return to America, his influence continued through their diligent correspondence. Letters from Kosai initially appears to be a simple, beautifully handcrafted white kimono. Yet sewn within the sheer fabric of its outer shell are dozens of transparent pockets that display Kosai's letters in their envelopes. The kimono becomes a garment of remembrances, a kind of human envelope encapsulating Kosai's spirit-image, his essence, which for Abeles resides in his words and learned thoughts. Abeles's constructed “image” portrays the subject in more palpable and intimate terms than the most fastidious rendering of his physical likeness could bring to light.