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Tamarack’s David L. Dickirson Fine Arts Gallery is mounting its first ever solo exhibition, titled The History of Rust in America and features the art work of Robert Villamagna. The exhibition will run September 30 through November 5, 2017. The opening ceremony is Saturday, September 30, 2017, 5-7p.m. Robert will attend the opening reception and make a special presentation on Sunday, October 1 at 2 p.m.
Artist Robert Villamagna works in repurposed lithographed metal, assemblage, and mixed-media. Villamagna’s work has been exhibited at the Carnegie Museum of Art, the Andy Warhol Museum, the Mattress Factory, Senator John Heinz History Center, ARC Gallery (Chicago), Penn State’s Robeson Gallery, Pittsburgh Center of the Arts, Society of Arts & Crafts (Boston), Erie Museum of Art, the Ohio Craft Museum, Huntington Museum of Art, The Clay Center, and the West Virginia Culture Center. Five of Villamagna’s works are in the State of West Virginia Permanent Collection. In 2016, Villamagna was named West Virginia Artist of the Year. Villamagna is an Assistant Professor of Art at West Liberty University, and director of the University’s Nutting Gallery.
I create assemblages and metal collages, primarily using found objects and re-purposed lithographed metal. This printed metal, or “tin”, comes from deconstructed product containers and old signage.
I grew up in the Ohio River Rustbelt. From the time I was a preschooler I have had a mark-making tool in my hand. However, the Rustbelt, in general, is not a supportive environment for one who wishes to make art his life’s work. Growing up, almost every adult male in our neighborhood was a steel worker or a miner. I ended up working in the steel mill myself for thirteen years.
The themes or narratives found in my work come from my own life experiences, as well as stories that the found objects and materials themselves may suggest. Some of these visual narratives are true, some exaggerated, some are total fantasy. Many of my works are my response to the world around me, which may include the environment, the political climate, tolerance, or our treatment of our fellow man. These “response works” are an outlet for me, and prevent me from throwing bricks at the television screen.
I am very passionate about working with found materials, especially those items that show use, wear and rust. I love stuff with character. I often find myself wondering about the person who made these materials, who used them, who held them. I like to think that a part or energy of that person is still contained in these things, and now it’s transferred into the artwork. I’m giving that discarded piece of metal, or that old object, a new life, a different life. I am thrilled that I can use this stuff and that it becomes a part of my creative process. These various materials are every bit as much of my palette as is a tray of oils are for a painter. For me, walking through a flea market is like walking through a well-stocked art materials store. The flea market is my palette.