Week Fifty Two

Sally Deskins: Review of “Rome Re-Imagined”

Posted in Art news, Art openings, Art review, general interest by sarahbakerhansen on 23 March 2009

Sally Deskins is a regular contributor for the Omaha Reader and Week Fifty Two. This week, she reviews Jason Scuilla’s show Rome Re-Imagined at the Metropolitan Community College Gallery of Art and Design.


Last fall, Metropolitan Community College opened the MCC Gallery of Art and Design at the Elkhorn Valley Campus on 204th and Dodge.  MCC boasts a strong visual arts program with notable faculty: sculptor Jamie Burmeister, painter Patricia Hollins and photographer Jim Butkus included, but this is the College’s first official art gallery (though it did previously and continues to exhibit student work in hallways).  Gallery Director and Photography Instructor Sheila Talbitzer-Reynolds’ Gallery Management class students, with guidance, coordinate everything: researching the artists and promoting the exhibitions, hanging the art, coordinating receptions and educating gallery visitors.

After gathering artist recommendations from other faculty, the students select an artist from the list of potentials and make presentations about why their chosen artist is best fit for the gallery to the Dean and a faculty committee who then make the official exhibition selection.  The student of the chosen artist then moves forward with coordinating the exhibition.

There has been a series of faculty exhibits, but the first artist to be given a solo exhibition is Jason Scuilla (student Dana Wickwire presented the artist last quarter), a print-maker from Manhattan, KS with an MFA from the Tyler School of Art in Philadelphia. His show “Rome Re-Imagined,” opened March 16.  Scuilla’s etchings are said to have the look of artwork from ancient civilizations, as he recently spent a year studying Etruscan, Byzantine and medieval and Renaissance art in Rome.

My face-value impression was of intricately crafted etchings of seemingly every-day subjects, like feet or staircases, which seem mysterious and even eerie or erotic.  The black-and-white renderings definitely have an old-world feel, with a sense of Durer’s emotive quality and Escher’s obscurity.  Definitely worth a check-out.

Scuilla’s artist statement offers clear accounts of his inspirations and ideas behind each of his works. Here is an excerpt regarding his renderings of feet:

The Monumental fragments of Italian sculpture in Rome have inspired several prints in this body of work.  Most recently, the large foot fragment in the courtyard of the Capitoline Museum has fueled my image making.  While in Rome I was able to visit the Domus Aureus, Emperor Nero’s pleasure palace, and learned the interesting story of the Colossus of Nero.  According to legend, a colossal statue of the malicious roman emperor Nero once stood where the coliseum stands today.  It is believed that Nero ordered the burning of peasant housing developments in order to make room for his colossal portrait.  Inspired by this and other chilling stories of Nero’s reign as emperor, I’m in the process of creating a series of intense, gnarly, foot fragments of what I imagine the foot of Nero could have looked like, if it were to be a reflection on his character.  I have taken imaginative liberties on these images, enlarging the foot to an impossibly large scale and disregarding the original idealized roman form for a more grotesque interpretation.”

Jason Scuilla’s exhibit, “Rome Re-Imagined,” runs through April 14. Gallery hours are Monday-Friday from 9AM to 6PM. For more info go to mccneb.eduwww.jasonscuilla.com. or http://www.mccneb.edu.

The gallery’s next exhibit will open May 1, the Juried Visual Arts Student Show which will run through May 17.  There will be an opening night reception on the evening of the first, which is a Friday, time to be announced.

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