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Athens Voices exhibit to show off work from artists around the country. (Provided via Jane Forrest Redfern)

Athens cities connected through art

There are different “Athens” cities scattered across the United States, but one exhibition is attempting to connect the geographic locations through art.

“Athens Voices USA 2017” art exhibition will open at the Dairy Barn Arts Center to the public on Saturday. The exhibition will feature art with one connecting thread — each artist is within 30 miles of an “Athens” of some sort. That not only includes artists in Athens, Ohio but artists in Alabama, West Virginia, Georgia and Kentucky.

This is the sixth biennial year (once every two years) of the exhibition’s existence.

The exhibition pieces were selected by three jurors: Darryl Halbrooks (Athens, Kentucky), Tatiana Veneruso (Athens, Georgia) and Pulitzer Prize-winning photographer Marcy Nighswander (Athens, Ohio).

Jane Forrest Redfern, executive director of the Dairy Barn, said with the biennial nature of the exhibition and the regulations only permitting work created within the past two years, it is able to capture the contemporary voices of Athens artists.

Kelsey Dillow, exhibitions manager at the Dairy Barn, said she was excited about the amount of work submitted by students.

Amy Gibas, a master of fine arts candidate studying painting and drawing at Ohio University, will be showing an oil painting she created last year titled “Ascent.” The painting is a part of a larger artistic process, she said in an email, and it depicts one flight of several helium-powered weather balloon that had a cameras and GPS devices attached to them.

Gibas said with this as her final year as a graduate student, she is looking forward to her first time showing at the Dairy Barn.

“With all of the artists being Athens residence, the opportunity to meet with and discuss work with other artists definitely creates a sense of community,” Gibas said in an email. “The fact that the exhibit travels to others Athens is an interesting way of connecting to individuals from other communities as well.”

According to the exhibition’s website, the exhibition may travel to Alabama and West Virginia throughout the year. Lindsay Koontz, master of fine arts candidate studying sculpture and expanded practice, said she is looking forward to that aspect of the traveling show. 

“That kind of fabricated and distant interaction that I will have with those artists whom I will never be viewing the work with in the same room at the same time is important to me,” Koontz said in an email. “It’s like a kind of imagined voyeurism.”

Koontz will be showing a print that used Gum Bichromate printing, which is a 19th century printing process, with her chosen pigment of breast milk as a way to discuss maternal relationship. 

David LaPalombara, OU director and professor in the School of Art + Design, has two panoramic paintings in the exhibition. One is of a snowy, wooded scene in Pennsylvania titled “Long Run” and the other depicts a moonrise on a lake in Maine titled “Long Blue Lake.” It is his first time showing his work in “Athens Voices” but he has viewed it and been to opening reception in previous years. 

LaPalombara said he’s looking forward to seeing artists and “to have an introduction to some new work that I might not otherwise be able to see.”


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