West Liberty University presents an entertaining and unusual mix of art, created by faculty in its 2013 art faculty exhibition, Jan. 23 – Feb. 14, in the Nutting Gallery. Faculty participating in the exhibition include: Brian Fencl, James Haizlett, Martyna Matusiak, Moonjung Kang, Nancy Tirone, Lambros Tsuhlares, Robert Villamagna and Neal Warren.
“This year the art faculty selected the theme of oddities,” said Robert Villamagna, gallery director. “The dictionary defines oddity as an odd person, thing, event or trait. Odd is an adjective denoting the quality of being unpaired, occasional, strange or unusual, or a person who is viewed as eccentric. In other words, the work in this show will focus on the strange and unusual,” he said.
“The works in Oddities will cover a wide range of media including drawing, painting, mixed media, digital, construction, photography and installation,” he explained.
“Having a new theme for the exhibition each year does a number of things,” Villamagna said. “It brings a freshness to the annual exhibition, it challenges the members of the art faculty and it shows students how a diverse group of artists each approach a single problem or idea, each in their own unique way and in a variety of media.”
In talking about his work for this exhibition, Professor Brian Fencl explained, “I used the theme as a catalyst to revisit old ideas and work that I put away because I either lost interest in the image or the piece wasn’t successful. I approached those pieces with the mindset of ‘What else can I add to it?’ Of all of the themes we have worked with over the last five or six years this one is the least confining. It naturally fits my work and people’s expectations of it.”
Associate Professor James Haizlett looks forward to the annual exhibition.
“For me, the faculty show is a chance to take some risks, do some experimenting, and generally have fun with the theme,” Haizlett said. “Last summer I bought an old mig welder and have been teaching myself how to weld. For this show I gathered up a bunch of old used car parts and broken farm equipment and laid them out on the floor of my barn. Then I started moving them around and piecing them together to see if I could come up with some interesting shapes that seemed to fit together. ‘Mechanical Bird’ is the first piece I created. The name pays homage to some of my students who formed a short-lived company with the same name. I always liked that name, and when the metal bird started taking shape I thought ‘Mechanical Bird’ fit the piece pretty well.”
Assistant Professor Martyna Matusiak states, “There is nothing funny about pulling someone’s leg. Incompossible is about being placed in between a joke and an insult and the moment of hesitation to decide which one it is. While thinking of the theme Oddities, our odd behaviors came to my mind. I am intrigued by our fragmentary way of reading the world and how our sarcastic flashes of cruelty somehow turn to be innocent jokes, or jokes that elevate to be heartbreaking moment. Constantly balancing between black and white, positive and negative where weird hands pull tiny legs – I construct an environment of repetition that makes us forget why we really laughed and causes us think … ‘Uhm…that’s odd.’”
‘I think that when an item is presented from a perspective that is new to the viewer, what is presented could be seen as odd,” sayid Associate Professor Nancy Tirone. “For the topic Oddities, I’ve chosen to not create or invent something strange or peculiar but, rather, to take a common, well known item and present it from a different perspective. One might call it an odd perspective. The item is not odd at all.”
“The artwork depicts the shape of negative space. Empty negative space is now seen as a solid positive shape. Negative space is not the absence of space but rather it is the space that defines the positive shape. I have chosen to use a three-dimensional item that has negative space within it. This negative space touches the edge of the item and is important to defining the item itself. The Plastic Glasses artwork depicts the negative space within each plastic glass as a solid shape,” she said.
“I thought it would be fun and interesting to investigate this negative space into positive shape idea,” Tirone stated, “Hopefully, viewers will also be intrigued and, after viewing the piece, start to see negative into positive examples all around them.”
Villamagna based his series of mixed media works on a carnival sideshow that he once visited in Weirton, W.Va.
“I was 13-years-old when I saw my first ‘ten-in-one’ or sideshow. That event has stuck with me throughout my life, and I thought this exhibition provided a good opportunity for me to re-visit the experience,” Villamagna said.
The exhibition, Oddities, will host an opening, from 5:30 to 7 p.m., Wednesday, Jan. 23, at WLU’s Nutting Gallery. Admission to the Nutting Gallery is free and open to the public.
The Nutting Gallery is open 8:30 a.m. to 2:30 p.m. weekdays; evenings and weekends by arrangement. For additional information contact Robert Villamagna at 304-336-8370 or at [email protected].