Artists share ‘green’ visions
|The Cuba tarpon (above) by Alberto Rey and Allyson Mellberg’s “safe” are among their works on display at the U.Va. Art Museum through Feb. 12.
While digital media shrinks the distance between cultures and lubricates the economy, it can also generate an unnatural, homogenized vision of the world. We see more technology than environment and are thus less aware of the impact circuits and chemicals have on the natural world, say two artists who are visiting the University this spring.
Painter and conservationist Alberto Rey produces works that focus on “Biological Regionalism,” documenting the natural environment as it shapes the life and culture of a region.
Printmaker and book artist Allyson Mellberg explores various printing and bookmaking techniques that are nontoxic and environmentally sound. Each will work as a resident artist at U.Va. during the semester and will conduct lectures, exhibitions and interactive workshops. The University’s Arts Board is sponsoring the projects.
Rey made his first visit Jan. 26-27, when he met with community and student groups interested in working with him on “Vanishing Species.” The project will focus on the documentation and study of trout in the central Virginia region. It will combine creative printmaking, environmental education, fine art and media. Rey will return March 16-21 for a lecture and gallery talk. A grant to the museum by the University Council on the Arts will further support his residency.
Rey crafts an ongoing series of “piscatorial” paintings of fish and their natural habitats. The steelhead trout of western New York are a favorite species of his. According to Rey, “the connection between nature and culture seems to have been lost, as most of our social and economic reliance has moved to an urban setting.” The goal of his project is “to reaffirm the lost connection by re-introducing the fish and landscape that are characteristic to a region through the use of traditional and contemporary mediums.”
Rey has been a professor of painting, drawing and illustration at the State University of New York at Fredonia since 1989. He is also executive director of the Chautauqua Center for the Visual Arts at the Chautauqua Institute in New York and is an accomplished angler and an Orvis-certified fly-fishing guide.
Mellberg, a resident of Charlottesville, focused on nontoxic plate making and printing methods during a Jan. 23-27 workshop. This week, she is demonstrating environmentally sound and nontoxic bookmaking and intaglio printing principles. Feb. 6-10, she will hold a session on water-based relief, screen-printing and bookbinding. In March, she will present another lecture to accompany an exhibition of books and prints made by students during the workshops. In April, she will conclude her residency with a “Non-Toxic Printmaking and Bookmaking Workshop” for youth at the U.Va. Art Museum.
Mellberg hails from Milwaukee, Wis. She is a member of Booklyn, an artist-run, nonprofit artists and bookmakers organization headquartered in Brooklyn, N.Y. Her ongoing portrait series depicts physically mutated boys and girls. Grotesque and beautiful, the images are lenses through which to view the distorting effects of a culture inundated with digital and chemical technology.
The Arts Board operates with funds raised from student activities fees and for the past 17 years has brought musicians, visual artists and theatrical performers to U.Va. for distinguished residencies. Notable guests have included violinist Isaac Stern and the Second City