New exhibitions opening at the West Virginia University Creative Arts Center’s Mesaros Galleries on Thursday, Jan. 23, include works by Andrea Polli, Mesa Del Sol endowed chair of digital media and director of the Social Media Workgroup at the University of New Mexico, along with works by artists who have been Deem Distinguished Artist Lecturers at WVU during the past 20 years. Both exhibitions will be open through Feb. 27.

This year marks the 20th Anniversary of the Deem Distinguished Artist Lecture, sponsored by Alison and Patrick Deem, and Polli will be this year’s Deem Distinguished Artist lecturer. She will speak Thursday, Jan. 23, at 5 p.m. in Bloch Learning and Performance Hall (Room 200A) of the Creative Arts Center. The opening reception for both exhibitions will follow at 6 p.m. at the Mesaros Galleries in the CAC main lobby. All events are free and open to the public.

The Andrea Polli exhibition is titled “Breathless” and will be on view in the Laura Mesaros Gallery. Considered among the leaders of the so-called “extreme” ecological art movement, Polli presents a series of works based on the scientific measurement of air quality. In “Breathless,” atmospheric pollution, melting glaciers, global warming, and a simple storm, are a living testimony to the climate change happening in the world today. The climate variations, analyzed and interpreted by Polli in this project installation, can also be seen as signs of the cultural changes that have accompanied the history of human evolution.

Polli was born in 1968 and is an artist working at the intersection of art, science and technology whose practice includes media installations, public interventions, curating and directing art and community projects, and writing. She is currently an associate professor of Art and Ecology with appointments in the College of Fine Arts and School of Engineering at the University of New Mexico. She holds the Mesa Del Sol Endowed Chair of Digital Media and directs the Social Media Workgroup, a lab at the University’s Center for Advanced Research Computing. Among other organizations, she has worked with the NASA/Goddard Institute Climate Research Group in New York City, the National Center for Atmospheric Research and AirNow. She holds a doctorate in practice-led research from the University of Plymouth in the United Kingdom. Her latest book is “Far Field: Digital Culture, Climate Change and the Poles,” published by Intellect Press. For more information, see Polli’s website at

The exhibition “DEEM 20: Twenty Years of the Deem Distinguished Artist Lecture” will be on view in the Paul Mesaros Gallery. Artists featured in this exhibition include former Deem Distinguished Artists Pam Longobardi, Buzz Spector, Diana Cooper, Carmon Colangelo, Judy Glantzman, Willie Cole, Ann Hamilton and Mel Chin, as well as Andrea Polli.

According to Robert Bridges, curator of the Mesaros Galleries and of the exhibitions, the Deem Distinguished Artist Lecture Series has brought the voices of contemporary artistic practice to West Virginia University for twenty years.

“These important lectures and exhibitions have contributed to fulfilling the University’s mission to be engaged with the leading edge of practice in all disciplines, including the visual arts,” he said. “The selected artists in this exhibition share more than the distinction of being linked through the Deem Series, they also share a seriousness to their practice and a distinctive vision in the art world. The Deem artists included in this exhibition are some of the most highly regarded artists working today. In addition to producing carefully crafted art works, they use their art to comment on important issues in the world today.

“Pam Longobardi’s painting, for example, addresses the devastation of recent large-scale natural disasters. Buzz Spector has long used books to comment on cultural history. His piece in this exhibition, ‘My Fiction,’ turns the strategy on himself to explore personal identity. Willie Cole uses the iconic imprint of a steam iron to address the serious history of domestic labor in this country, contrasted with the cheerful form of a large blossom.

“This exhibition of internationally recognized artists fulfills the Deems’ desire to contribute to the cultural life of the University and the education of its students. As a group, the contemporary art presented here does what the great art of any era does: it provides a place for reflection, poses questions for investigation, offers interesting objects that delight and challenge, and suggests insights on the human condition.”

Over the years, Alison and Patrick Deem, of Bridgeport, W.Va., have been true leaders in advancing the arts at WVU, and most especially, the education of students. Their Distinguished Visiting Artist Lecture Series has brought internationally recognized artists and their work to the WVU campus, fostering not only student and faculty engagement, but also free public lectures by these artists, providing community access to thought-provoking examples of contemporary art.

In addition to the artists featured in the DEEM 20 exhibition, other artists who have been Deem Distinguished Artist Lecturers during the past 20 years include: Amy Franceschini, Michael Mercil, Hassan M. Elahi, Mark Klett, James Luna, Johanna Drucker, Chris Duncan & Peter Dudek, Judy Linn, Hachivi Edgar Heap of Birds, Ann Agee and Phoebe Adams.

Managed and programmed by Curator Robert Bridges and the WVU School of Art and Design, the Mesaros Galleries organize a diverse and exciting schedule of exhibitions throughout the year. The galleries are committed to showing experimental work that is innovative both in terms of media and content. The Mesaros Galleries and the WVU School of Art and Design also host contemporary artists of important or growing reputation who work in all media in the Lecture Series.

All Mesaros Galleries events, including art lectures, exhibitions and receptions are free and open to the public.

Gallery hours are Monday through Saturday, from noon to 9:30 p.m. The galleries are closed Sundays and University holidays. Special individual or group viewing times may be arranged upon request.

For more information, contact Robert Bridges, curator, at (304) 293-2312.



CONTACT: Charlene Lattea, College of Creative Arts

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