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Art professor creates works about endangered regions

By Jessica Mealy

James Brey and artist Judith Waller discuss the painting “Naples” at the Layers gallery talk in the Aylward Gallery Sept. 13.

photo by Jessica Mealy
James Brey and artist Judith Waller discuss
the painting "Naples" at the Layers gallery talk
in the Aylward Gallery Sept. 13.

UW-Fox art professor Judith Waller and director of education for the American Meteorological Society James Brey hosted a gallery talk titled Layers: Places in Peril in the Aylward Gallery Sept. 13 at 12:30 p.m.

A special public reception was held in the gallery from 6 to 8 p.m. the following day.

"I'd been looking forward to this show because Judith Waller's compositions are thoughtful and skillful," spectator Jacque Kreider said.

The reception featured music from world-renowned improvisational cellist Matt Turner.

"I was also excited to enjoy the music that was scheduled for the opening. The musician played an electric cello and it was very cool."

Layers is a collaborative exhibition that uses art and text to address the convergence of human activity with increased hazard vulnerability due to global climate change and natural disasters.

"I came up with the title Layers when thinking about the density layering of our Earth and its atmosphere which is the setting and often the cause of some of the hazards that places in peril face," Brey said.

Exhibit artist Waller enjoyed working with Brey to create the textual concept for her work.

"This show wouldn't be what it is, wouldn't be Layers without Jim Brey's partnership in the project," Waller said.

The painting "Naples" is focused on the power of Mount Vesuvius, and is Waller's favorite piece.

"‘Naples’ is my favorite painting in the show. I have been to the rim of Mt. Vesuvius four times and looked down at the circles below. I am concerned about the earth science hazards there," Waller said.

The piece "The World Ocean" addresses the issue of oceanic pollution and the decline of marine life.

"It's very hard for me to pick a favorite, but if I had to choose, it would be "The World Ocean". I was drawn to the vibrant blues, the energized line that flowed, but not gently, and the contrast of the yellow/yellow-orange areas against the blue," Kreider said.

Italy provided inspiration and teaching opportunities for Waller and Brey.

"My favorite source of information for art, culture, language-even food…is Italy," Waller said.

"Some of my favorite artists are Italian, two painters whose work I so admire: Titian and Tintoretto."

Layers educated attendees on many important environmental issues.

"The show gave me conflicted emotions. The paintings were beautiful and captivating, but the descriptions of the places and why they were in danger were disturbing," Kreider said.

"That's the point of the show, to educate us about the beautiful places that are in peril."

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