The University of Rio Grande Madog Center for Welsh Studies will host a presentation by 2016-2017 Madog Faculty Fellows and professors of art, Benjy Davies and Kevin Lyles in the Esther Allen Greer Museum, Thursday, March 30 at 4 p.m. A reception following the presentation will begin at 5 p.m.
The art exhibit, “Paired Landscapes,” will include Davies and Lyles’ research on the comparison of landscapes in Wales and Southeastern Ohio and what similarities made the region appealing to Welsh immigrants and settlers. To complete their research, Lyles and Davies visited Wales this past summer. Jeanne Jindra, the director for the Madog Center for Welsh Studies, said she feels it is important for faculty fellows to include this trip in their research.
“Going to Wales for the research adds a richer layer to our faculty fellows’ work. The chance to work alongside other professional artists from Wales is also a great opportunity for them to share ideas and new techniques on a global scale,” Jindra said. “I am very excited about this research and what Benjy and Kevin where able to do while in Wales. I’m eager to learn more about their findings from the trip.”
Each year, the Madog Center for Welsh Studies presents a member of Rio’s full-time faculty with a fellowship to engage in original research and scholarship related to Wales and Welsh culture. The Madog Faculty Fellow Committee selects the faculty member based on an application and research proposal detailing their interest to help create an understanding and appreciation of Welsh heritage in Southeastern Ohio and contemporary Welsh culture. This year, the committee voted for a joint proposal sent by Lyles and Davies, the first professors to combine research for the fellowship. Both professors have been faculty fellows in previous years.
“We thought it would be a rewarding experience for us to apply and do this research together. We had both been wanting to work landscapes in our own mediums. I’m a sculptor and Benjy is a painter, printmaker and drawer. It was interesting to figure out how to collaborate our mediums,” Lyles said. “It’s really exciting for me to go to foreign countries and see new cultures. It is an amazing gift to be able to travel with a colleague and work in our domains while engaging with the culture. To me, this trip and the project were the best of all worlds. I don’t think it could have gotten much better.”
Davies said the pieces on display at the gallery will include components from both his and Lyles’s styles and present elements from both Welsh and Appalachian landscapes.
“People here in Appalachia have a very strong connection to the land. The landscapes are crucial to the Appalachian identity. I also feel this is important to the Welsh identity and think the similarities and familiarity of our landscapes to their own are part of the reason Welsh settlers chose this area,” Davies said. “One thing that worked out well for us is Kevin and I have two colleagues in Wales, print maker Andrew Baldwin and sculptor Bryan Thomas, who were gracious enough to host us, share their culture with us, and exchange ideas with us. We’re very grateful to them as well as the Madog Center and Jeanne Jindra, as well as President Johnston, Provost Sax, Dean Duda and the entire campus community for their support in this effort.”
Both Baldwin and Thomas have traveled from Wales to attend the opening of the exhibit. Davies said he is excited for them to share their own ideas and techniques with Rio faculty and students during their stay at Rio.
“Traveling for research as Kevin and I did gives professors a broader understanding of how the practice works globally and of what you are doing and what others are doing, allowing for collaboration,” Davies said. “Having Andrew and Bryan here working in our studios and classrooms with the students not only brings new techniques to us, but they will also take this experience back to Wales with them and continuing that collaboration with other colleagues.”
Lyles said sharing ideas and techniques is an important component to the art fields. He said he hopes this research will inspire students to branch out and collaborate with other artists on a global scale.
“We want our students to act the way artists do through attending galleries, entering shows, going to museums and collaboration with other artists,” Lyles said. “However, we can’t expect them to do that kind of thing, if we aren’t doing it ourselves. We feel modeling what we teach adds quality to their education here and lets them learn more than they can through just classroom lectures and demonstrations.”
The presentation opens to the public Thursday and will remain at the Esther Allen Greer Museum through April 7. The museum’s will be open 1:00 – 5:00 pm Tuesdays through Fridays. For more information on the art exhibit, contact Jeanne Jindra at (740) 245-7186.