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The Blue & Gray Press | November 19, 2017

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DiBella Past and Present

By Katie Robinson

UMW Galleries held an open reception on Thursday, Jan 22 for Dupont Gallery’s new exhibit, “Departures and Arrivals: Previous and Recent Works” by Joseph Di Bella. The exhibit will be on display from Jan 23 through Feb 6 and admission is free.
This well crafted exhibit presents a colorful array of complex pieces that were chosen by painting and drawing professor Joseph Di Bella because they demonstrate various formal and conceptual issues that he addressed during his professional career. These specific works vary in the techniques used to produce them as well as each piece’s individual influences.
Di Bella chose these pieces so that his students can know firsthand, “that when I insist that they really investigate and look into interconnections of concept, technology, history of art, and various influences, that I’m not just talking out of my hat.” The intricate and dynamic pieces in this exhibit show Di Bella’s skill in all the areas that he teaches and the number of different approaches used in his art gives enough variety to do justice to his cause.
As I walked through the mingling crowd, I overheard many people exclaim, “this if Fabulous!” and “Oh my God, I love this one!” A junior, Kimberly Quarforth says, “It’s cool to see the work of my teacher.” Quarforth regularly attends gallery openings and said she was “so glad its Di Bella’s stuff. I’m excited to see more of his work.”
Other students realized the clear connections to literature used throughout the exhibit. Senior Tom Roberts commented on his personal favorite, a piece entitled “Subito Sera,” the most painstaking of Di Bella’s work, a beautifully detailed egg tempra, eggshell mosaic and gold leaf on wood piece.
“I like how the piece really connects with older painting traditions like older Renaissance art and he makes a lot of connections in a number of paintings with classical motifs and Italian renaissance stuff,” Roberts said. He then pointed to a wall which displayed the work “Omo Non Omo,” and said, “It is interesting how [Di Bella] refers to Dante’s Divine Comedy and how he plays with other literature as well.”
Throughout the show it is clear to see the relationship between text and composition. Di Bella uses literature and mythology, as well as architecture, color, language, and landscape in a number if his pieces creating some “amazing and breathtaking work.” said senior, Jesse Kopp.
An example of literature’s influence in Di Bella’s work comes from Salvador Quasimodo’s writings on the mystery of Sicily and its paradox of civilization. The influence is seen in the monotype “Beneath the Mount No.1”. The piece, one in a series of 10, highlights Quasimodo’s poetic writing and Sicily’s active volcano, Mt. Etna.
As Di Bella encourages his students he says, “Read something, it resonates and then all areas of life are available for the artist to investigate and see what it is to be human. Have a passion”
Many of Di Bella’s works are conceptually challenging but demonstrate all of the techniques the he wishes to impart to his students. This successful opening reception drew many students and members of the community who enjoyed the free food and great art.  By7 p.m. it was apparent that students were seeing what Di Bella intended with this exhibit.