For my first post as a blogger for Jamestown Community College, I would like to focus on a place where as a JCC student I invest a lot of my time: the Weeks Gallery. For this post specifically, I’d like to focus on the current exhibition Alberto Rey: Biological Regionalism. The exhibition has been displayed in the gallery since August 25 and will run until October 3. The show is about various waterways, most being local to the area, and the impact of pollution on them. The bulk of the show features paintings of the waterways; however, there are also water samples, charts with information about the water samples, and sketchbooks from the artist.
As a gallery assistant, I helped work at the show and saw what exactly a gallery opening is. Overall, the opening was successful and incredibly fun to attend. The artist Alberto Rey was in attendance and spoke in depth about his artwork. It was interesting to hear Rey speak about the work and what he hoped to convey to others through it.
Personally, experiencing the work myself was a process. By this I mean that when I first viewed the artwork, my impression was that all the paintings were beautiful, and the bluish-green colors drew in the onlooker. The more I went into the gallery and paid closer attention to all aspects of the show, the more my perspective changed. I began to look closer at the other pieces included in the show. I soon realized the water samples and charts of information were a part of each piece. Each painting is matched with a water sample and a chart, the water sample being from the waterway which is depicted in the painting. The chart behind the water sample shows the levels of turbidity, conductivity, and E. Coli in the water. After realizing these key pieces were as much a part of the show as the paintings, I began to understand what Rey was trying to convey. I saw that in the paintings with a lot of urban development near the waterway, the water was dangerous, unsafe, and appeared dirty in some parts. Even in the painting that shows the most untouched section left of the creek, the water is considered unsafe for recreation. After finally seeing all these various parts, my perspective completely changed. The paintings aren’t meant to be considered beautiful as I once thought. Instead, they’re intended to draw the audience in and then reveal reality in their details.
As said, for me personally it was a small process to discover the actual meaning behind the exhibition. I experienced the show in a way that I haven’t experienced other art before. Seeing the work for what it is and what it represents can sometimes (such as in this case) be more difficult to accept due to the harsh realities it’s depicting. Yet, whether it be because of a single piece or the entire exhibition, hopefully onlookers will begin to think more about the environment and the effects of pollution. Knowing that the art depicts waterways which are local to the area, the pollution situation might become more real to viewers, as various harmful effects are seemingly right in their own backyard.
I encourage everyone to stop into the Weeks Gallery on campus to view the work themselves. Be sure to also check out our next show, The Veterans Book Project, by Monica Haller, which will run from October 27 until December 11.