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Behind the scenes ‘Of Paper’

Students work with Italian artist on Hanes Gallery exhibit

By Kim McGrath Office of Communications and External Relations
Brian Spadafora (far left) and Geoff Weber (blue shirt) help Delio Gennai (far right) install his work in the Hanes Gallery for "Of Paper."
Brian Spadafora (far left) and Geoff Weber (blue shirt) help Delio Gennai (far right) install his work in the Hanes Gallery for "Of Paper."

With e-books, e-mail and the Internet, the way we use paper is changing. Hanes Gallery’s exhibition, “Of Paper,” offers a space to look at art that is on or made of paper and reflect on paper’s meaning across cultures.

The exhibition includes works from two continents by artists who live more than 4,500 miles apart — Italian artist Delio Gennai and Winston-Salem artist Leo Morrisey.

Who’s who at Hanes Gallery

Paul Bright (left) and Marcus Keely

  • Stop by the Charlotte and Philip Hanes Art Gallery to see “Of Paper” and you’ll likely find two familiar faces. Paul Bright and Marcus Keely, the gallery’s new director and assistant director. Bright, who joined Wake Forest in 2004 as assistant gallery director, takes over the guiding role from Victor Faccinto, who managed the gallery for more than 30 years. Keely, a 2010 Wake Forest graduate, steps into the assistant directorship role after almost two years managing the Wake Forest student art gallery (START).

Wake Forest junior Brian Spadafora and sophomore Geoff Weber worked with gallery director Paul Bright, assistant gallery director Marcus Keely, and Gennai, who is from Pisa, to install the works. The students used their Italian language skills to help with translation.

Spadafora, a studio art major from Port Charlotte, Fla., was nervous about translating when Bright invited him to help with the installation. “But after meeting Signor Gennai, the initial reservation faded, and I had a wonderful time discussing the artist’s process behind his pieces,” said Spadafora.

“I have a passion for art and Italian culture and to be able to discuss both in a relaxed setting with an Italian artist was too good to be true,” Spadafora said. “I traveled to Italy a few years ago, and the experience reaffirmed my passion for studio art, art history and the Italian language. Being involved in displaying Signor Gennai’s work was equally humbling and exciting. Choosing where and how each piece will be displayed in an exhibit is part of the creative process. It’s easy to take such procedures for granted when viewing works at a gallery, but there is an extraordinary amount of time and effort that goes into arranging a body of work.”

Gennai’s works recall the art of the medieval time and use the forms, designs and texts shared by Islam and the west in the Middle Ages. During the exhibition Hanes Gallery will host a walk-through discussion of the exhibition focusing on aspects of text and script by art history professor Chanchal Dadlani, a presentation on the cultural relationship of Islamic and Christian societies in the Middle Ages by Romance languages professor Roberta Morosini and a lecture by Bright.

Morrissey uses books in his art — cutting and excavating them and making viewers aware of them as sculptural objects as well as vessels of information, said Bright. “That both Gennai and Morrissey work with paper and have a keen awareness of its cultural importance connects the two artists and the theme for the exhibition.”

What advice does Bright have for those who come to the exhibition? “Leave your preconceptions at the door,” he says. “Be as open as possible to what you see. Just take it in the first time through; don’t let your thoughts get in front of your eyes. There is time later for discussion and arriving at informed opinions.”

Listen to WFDD’s David Ford interview Hanes Gallery Director Paul Bright and artist Leo Morrissey on Triad Arts Up Close.

“Of Paper” runs through October 7. Visit the gallery website for exhibition images, a video on the Gennai’s work and more information on related scheduled events.

Read more: “Paper Contains the Accumulated Data of A Millennium” (Yes! Weekly)

What’s coming to Hanes Gallery

  • A broad range and focus of exhibitions, and programming that supports classroom instruction
  • A redesign of the gallery’s website to include additional background on exhibitions and artists, including related images, essays and catalogs, when available
  • Social media and email outreach to keep the community informed of gallery events
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