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.
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.”
“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)