New Jersey Artists Open Summer Exhibitions at the Visual Art Center in Summit
Nancy Cohen: Atlas of Impermanence and Katrina Bello: Knowable Earth
WHEN: Saturday, May 8, 1–5 PM, through June 13
WHERE: The Visual Arts Center of New Jersey is located at 68 Elm Street in Summit, NJ.
Gallery hours: Monday– Thursday, 10 AM–8 PM; Friday, 10 AM–5 PM; and Saturday & Sunday, 11 AM–4 PM. Admission must be reserved in advance. Please call 908.273.9121 to confirm holiday hours. Visit artcenternj.org for more information.
The Visual Arts Center of New Jersey will open its new summer exhibitions to the public. To provide the safest viewing experience possible, visitors must make reservations through artcenternj.org for limited, one-hour time slots.
“I am thrilled to work with two incredible New Jersey-based artists on these solo projects,” said Mary Birmingham, the Art Center’s curator. “Each artist, in her own unique way, explores the beauty, complexity, and fragility of the natural world and our place in it.”
Nancy Cohen: Atlas of Impermanence, on view in the Main Gallery, features large-scale drawings that resemble tapestries but are made from paper pulp and handmade paper. From the artist’s ongoing series, The Work of Time, these monumentally scaled works are placed in dialogue with an array of small glass sculptures suspended in each of the gallery’s soaring window bays. Compelled by the fragility and strength of the natural world, Cohen has chosen materials that embody these qualities, both physically and metaphorically. She has worked with glass and handmade paper for more than 25 years, drawn to these materials and processes for their transformative qualities, their potential for translucency, and their ability to integrate structure and surface simultaneously.
The imagery in Cohen’s paper works derives from memories of particular landscapes—often waterways in industrialized New Jersey—as well as personal observations about the human struggle. She has always been concerned with survival in the face of environmental change, both personally and globally. These thoughts were amplified during the COVID-19 pandemic, as she confronted feelings about illness and death, entrapment and escape. Perhaps in response, she created the small glass abstractions that became part of this current installation. The wing-like forms of these glass elements floating ethereally beside the weightier, more grounded drawings, convey a sense of flight or transcendence. Cohen has noted, “It is my goal that in this work, as in our own lives, elements hang in the balance, each one necessary, vulnerable, beautiful, and above all interdependent.”
A catalogue with an essay by Jennifer Scanlan and poetry by Edwin Torres will accompany this exhibition.
Like Cohen, Bello created this body of work during the COVID-19 pandemic, while she was missing the tactile and physical connections to the places and things that normally inform her work. She challenged herself with the question, “How can I know them enough to make drawings?” Relying largely on her own memories and perceptions, as well as the testimony of others, she has recreated an experience of earth that is both knowable and authentic.
Visit artcenternj.org for more information on these exhibitions and to reserve a timeslot.
About the Visual Arts Center of New Jersey
For over 85 years, the Visual Arts Center of New Jersey has been exclusively dedicated to viewing, making, and learning about contemporary art. Recognized as a leading non-profit arts organization, the Art Center’s renowned Studio School, acclaimed exhibitions, and educational outreach initiatives serve thousands of youth, families, seniors, and people with special needs every year.