Nutting Gallery showcases tree-themed faculty artwork

By Yijing Shen, Contributing Writer
The annual faculty exhibition opened on Jan. 17 in the Nutting Gallery. Robert Villamagna, the gallery’s director, came up with the idea of having an annual art faculty exhibition. Every year, he picks the theme from all the art faculty members’ votes. This year’s theme is “Tree.” 

“The Tree Show” features work from WLU professors Villamagna, Sarah Davis, James Haizlett, Martyna Matusiak, Brian Fencl, Moonjung Kang, and MiHee Hong, a professor from Hanbat National University in South Korea. 
“I took over the gallery about 19 years ago, had the show because when I noticed that in faculty exhibition, there were some people who were showing old work that they had set around. Then I thought we should be showing new art work every year, and we should be showing students that we make work as well,” said Villamagna. “Last year’s theme was ‘Toy,’ and one year was called ‘6-by-6-by-6,’ which means you can make everything no bigger than six inches in any direction.”
Villamagna created 10 photographs named “Family Trees.” He is one of the art professors who is going to retire this year. Having passions on polishing photographs, this time he chose to paint on it. The other retiring professor is Nancy Tirone. 
“I knew I was going to retire this year. I didn’t really have time because I was doing a project about outdoor public pieces in Pennsylvania. I have been thinking that what I can do in a short, quick time, which is also the inspiration behind my work,” said Villamagna. “I like to play with the photographs, sometimes I like to collage on them, sometimes I add metals to them. Once I decided to play with photographs, I was just having fun with it. This time I chose to paint on it directly, and I had a good time with it.”
Kang, WLU’s Associate Professor of Graphic Design, created a calendar named “The Tree.” Combining the professional skills and interesting ideas, she wants her works to entertain the audience.
“I used a skill that we call it ‘overprint effect,’ which is basically playing with layers and colors. I picked some tree pictures that I took in my hometown or somewhere else, and added ‘overprint effect’ on them,” said Kang. “Of course, the inspiration behind my calendar is I wanted to make something that can make people happy. Personally, I found it’s interesting to compose some sentences on it, like I wrote ‘Can you see me?’ on  December’s because people would start complaining ‘I should have done that or I shouldn’t have done that’ every time when we reach the end of a year.”
My favorite piece is the “Korzenie (Root)” by Martyna Matusiak. The story is about her daughter who was diagnosed with a Polycystic Kidney Disease, which had a powerful impact on her art work. It is such an impressive work of mixed painting base on photographs that belong to her and her husband’s families and the dark tone showed the past and present of her loved ones. 
If you have a chance, you should go to the Nutting Gallery to see “The Tree Show.” The exhibit will be up until Feb. 8. The Nutting Gallery, located in the Fine Arts Building,  is open from 8:30 a.m. to 2:30 p.m. on weekdays.
Photo credits: Yijing Shen