'Shrines and Altarpieces' Exhibit on Display

Thursday, March 02, 2006

Claudia Giannini, a Morgantown artist with a national reputation, will exhibit her "Shrines and Altarpieces" in the Brooks Gallery of Wallman Hall from March 7-31.

She will speak about her work at the opening reception, Tuesday, March 7, from 7-9 p.m. The event is free and open to the public.

Giannini received her Bachelor of Fine Arts degree at West Virginia University and studied art history and museum education at Penn State, graduating with a Masters in Education in 1981. She has worked in the museum field for more than 20 years, including at the Smithsonian Institution, the Birmingham Art Museum and the Carnegie Museum of Art. She currently works at the Mattress Factory museum of contemporary art in Pittsburgh where she prepares grant proposals and exhibition catalogues.

Giannini received her Master of Fine Arts degree from WVU in 1999, with specialization in printmaking and photography. She has held residencies at the Vermont Studio Center and Virginia Center for the Creative Arts and also participated in a residency at Artists Image Resource in Pittsburgh sponsored by the Mid Atlantic Art Foundation. The work she created there was included in an exhibition traveling throughout the mid-Atlantic region in 2004-2005. She has exhibited her work widely, including at SOHO20 Gallery in New York, Pittsburgh Center for the Arts and the Buckham Gallery in Michigan, as well as throughout West Virginia.

Her work uses a combination of photographic and printmaking techniques, along with other media such as wax, collage and handmade paper, to create images that explore our connection to the natural world. She draws personal inspiration from nature and the environment that is so uniquely diverse and abundant in West Virginia.

"My work uses the sacred geometry of Christianity and Buddhism--both with long traditions of devising sacred spaces in three and two dimensions--to organize visually the natural imagery in my work," Giannini said. "Related to my interest in religion and plants is the idea of healing. In Western and Eastern traditions, healing powers are ascribed to both images and plants.

"I have been to Italy five times and was intrigued by street shrines that are everywhere. Even though they are Christian today, they go back to the Roman (and probably pre-Roman) ideas of marking a sacred space. So I took that idea to mark the spaces in the landscape that are special or sacred to me. In my most recent series, "Shrines and Altarpieces," I have made the idea of sacredness totally obvious in order to present a somewhat ironic point of view. The landscape images are natural places being tamed or destroyed by urban sprawl--even in West Virginia--and the plants are native species whose habitats are disappearing."

Regular gallery hours are Mondays through Fridays from 11 a.m.-4 p.m. For special viewing arrangements, call or e-mail Curator Marian J. Hollinger at (304) 367-4300 or mhollinger@fairmontstate.edu.