WEST LIBERTY, W.Va., Jan. 11, 2017 — The new semester kicks off with the annual Art Faculty Exhibition, entitled The Toy Show. The opening reception will take place from 5:30-7:00 p.m., Wednesday, Jan. 18 and is free and open to the public.
Art faculty members participating in this year’s exhibition are Sarah Davis, Brian Fencl, James Haizlett, Martyna Matusiak, Moon Jung Kang, Nancy Tirone and Robert Villamagna.
“Each year the Art Faculty Exhibition features a theme. This year the art faculty chose toys as a source of inspiration,” said Villamagna, who is an assistant professor of art and the director of the Nutting Gallery.
“Members of the art faculty have approached the subject of toys in their own way, and in a wide variety of media.” he added.
“Anything can be a toy,” said Davis, an instructor of graphic design. “Sometimes, the less the object has been defined as a toy, the more kids (and adults) will want to play with it. I think this follows the same theory that draws cats to the most allergic person in the room. Whatever we don’t want people (or cats) to play with, they inevitably will.”
“Playing with toys takes us somewhere other than where we are at the moment,” she added. “I think what’s interesting is that objects can become anything through imaginative play. The identity of an object can change depending on our will to use it for something other than that for which it was originally intended.”
“My work for The Toy Show investigates the varied spaces of parenthood, from the joy and comfort to exhaustion and misery,” said Matusiak who is assistant professor of art at WLU where she has taught since 2012.
“It brought back memories from four and a half years ago when my son was born, and then again two years later when my daughter decided to join us. Back then I spent much of my days with no one but my infant to talk to, the two of us crying in tandem. The theme was a perfect trigger for me to reflect on my role as a mom of now a preschooler and a toddler,” Matusiak added.
“We dedicated the month of December to working together on the show. My kids would take photographs that would become inspirations for my prints. We would pay attention to read books and document text or illustrations which could be used in my work. Much of my winter break I spent on the floor playing with trains, superheroes, dolls, blocks and crayons. Working on this body of work was a relieve. It was a family affair. I dare to say, it was fun! It felt strong and simple. It blurred the gap of selfishness of an artist with selflessness of a mother,” Matusiak said.
For his work in The Toy Show, Villamagna used bits and pieces of old toys juxtaposed with a variety of other materials.
“The subject of this exhibition gave me the opportunity to create a series of toys that are more about thinking than actually playing,” Villamagna said. “You might say I’m playing with you, the viewer, as I use toys as a vehicle to explore a variety of subjects. There are threads of nostalgia woven into my constructions, but each piece of work carries it’s own visual narrative that goes beyond the familiar.”
“Having a new theme for the exhibition each year does a number of things,” Villamagna said. “It brings freshness to the annual exhibition, challenges the members of the art faculty and shows students how a diverse group of artists approaches a single problem or idea in unique ways and a variety of media.”
The Toy Show exhibition will remain on display through Feb. 9.
The Nutting Gallery is open 8:30 a.m to 2:30 p.m weekdays, as well as evenings and weekends by arrangement. For additional information, please contact Villamagna at 304-336-8370 or at [email protected]