As West Virginia celebrates its 150th birthday this summer, James Haizlett, WLU associate professor of art is being featured in an invitational exhibit at the Huntington Museum of Art. Haizlett is one of 18 artists included in this special exhibition entitled, “Macy’s Presents: A Sense of Place: The West Virginia Sesquicentennial Artist Invitational.” It is open to the public through Sept. 22.
The exhibit opens with a special event, from 6 – 8 p.m., June 22, that will include a short video about the artists created by Museum Education Assistant Brad Boston. The film will be shown in Grace Rardin Doherty Auditorium followed by a meet-the-artists reception. Admission is free.
Haizlett’s work is distinctive and the example featured in this exhibit is called, “Marcellus Oklahomus: Invasive Species.”
It stands 36 inches tall and is made of welded, found objects, according to Haizlett. It has a stinger which is a large drill bit protruding from its behind and also has sharp teeth and wings, and long, grabby fingers.
“The piece is my reaction to the Marcellus drilling boom,” said Haizlett. “West Virginia has a long history of having its natural resources removed with little concern for the people who live here or the environment. I am not completely against the responsible use of natural resources, as long as it is done honestly and with respect for the land and people who live near these sites. Unfortunately, I have witnessed little of any of this in the present Marcellus drilling boom. Hopefully, with some awareness, the next 150 years will be more kind to the environment, animals, and people, than the first 150 years have been.”
All participating artists are instructors in West Virginia colleges and universities and work closely with West Virginia students and the exhibit was designed to present many viewpoints, according to Huntington museum officials. Traditional versus contemporary art and many varieties of media, including painting, sculpture, drawing, printmaking, photography and video make up the mix.
“We asked each invited artist to create a work in their preferred medium and in their unique personal style using ‘sense of place’ as a broad guide, referring to this theme as an intensely personal response to the environment, both social and natural, which the individual experiences in daily life. This sense can also refer to the individual’s perception of the whole state, and their feelings, attitudes, and influences living, working, and residing in West Virginia,” said Jenine Culligan, organizing curator of the exhibit.
Culligan and Boston also visited each artist’s studio and created a travelogue and the film that features the artists’ studios, schools and towns.
WLU’s College of Arts and Communication is comprised of the Department of Journalism, Communication Studies and Visual Arts and the Department of Music and Theatre. It offers art degrees in art education, graphic design, digital media design and is currently developing a degree in art therapy. The Nutting Art Gallery features faculty and student exhibitions throughout the school year.