Odili Donald Odita, one of our current exhibiting artists, is making his mark on the Moss Arts Center long after his last work comes down off the gallery walls.
Odita, a master of geometric abstractions who mines the expressive and metaphoric power of line, color, and form in brilliantly colored canvases, will spend nearly a month creating a work on a wall in the Grand Lobby. He took inspiration for the mural design from the contrast between the lightness of the expansive of windows on the building and the use of Virginia Tech’s famed Hokie Stone.
It is an honor to be invited by the Virginia Polytechnic Institute and State University to create a wall painting installation for the Moss Arts Center, which houses the Center for the Arts at Virginia Tech. When arriving at the Moss Arts Center, I was struck by the long and jagged walkway that leads up to the monumental structure seen within a fielded landscape and surrounding park grounds.
My initial feelings were of astonishment; this building seemed to rise up out of the ground, singular and apart from the neighboring structures with its environment. A grounding factor was the stone that comprised much of the exterior structure of this building. The stone itself is saturated with a color that is dominant and starkly present, yet analogous with its surround of sparse green grass and blue-gray sky. This stone’s glow helped to give the feeling that this building could have been carved out of, rather than built into its environs.
There was another feeling I had of disjuncture. There seemed to be a general question of connection between the celestial, upward nature of the windows against the earthly-bound quality of the stone. This feeling changed as I entered the building through its main doors and walked toward the center stairwell. The building sang from this point forward as I walked through the grand, curvular stairwell and into its majestic concert hall. The concert space resonated with the joyous glory of a choir in full effect–the heavens opened up at the ceiling through the design of magnificent arched panels that glide upward with the grace of angels. It was in the stairwell, at the heart of the building, where it all began to make sense for me–this is where I understood the narrative between the forces of parts that are the stone, the windows, like steeples of a church, and the concert hall. Altogether these parts spoke to me with the grandeur of a magnum opus. I knew from that point I had to make a design that would build a bridge and continue the reconciliation between these distinctive parts.
My design has in mind crossroads; crossroads as the point of direction and change where choice and action is made. I want to make a form that is like a windmill rotating with this force of change. I want to create a space that is both reflective and attentive to the design forces throughout the building, and generate in my installation movements that begin to unlock the energies stored within the center’s walls. It is my intention to have the wall painting rotate with color in a big and expansive way, showering its forces outward, throughout the center’s grandiose and dynamic inner core.
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The mural, underway in the Grand Lobby right now, will be completed at the end of the month, and will remain in place for a year. Come by the Moss Arts Center to check on the progress of the mural and to see other works by Odita and his fellow exhibiting artists, Patrick Wilson and Manfred Mohr, while Evolving Geometries: Line, Form, and Color is open, now through November 20.
First image pictured above is a mural installation in Helsinki.
Kathy Mattea will bring us all home during her performance at the MAC in the season opener on Friday. (Where did the summer go? Where?!)
We can’t wait to have you all back in our casa again, though, and we have so many fun things planned for you all throughout the season, above and beyond the lineup of performances. How about live music on our patio? Check! A chance to meet Mattea herself and get signed copies of her CD? Check!
We’re also offering a chance for you all to hear a talk by Mattea herself, outside of her Friday performance. Join us Thursday, starting at 7 p.m., for “My Coal Journey,” which focuses on her family’s ties to coal mining culture and her current environmental advocacy efforts. And did we mention it’s free?
Before the talk, we welcome local and regional organizations and exhibits that are a part of this community. Learn about local and regional initiatives and experience the transformative power of Appalachian creative arts. Groups will be in the lobby beginning at 6 p.m.
We hope you all are ready for two evenings of fun as we kick off our second season! Be sure to check out our other exciting engagement events, coming up throughout the year.
At the Moss Arts Center, artists don’t show up, perform, and leave.
“We’re a place where artists come to connect with people, share their experiences and insight, and learn more about our community,” said Ruth Waalkes, associate provost for the arts and executive director of the Center for the Arts at Virginia Tech.
Programs hosted by the Center for the Arts and the Institute for Creativity, Arts, and Technology, both housed inside the Moss Arts Center, bring new ways for everyone to engage with the arts and the creative process.
In simpler terms, the Moss Arts Center is more than just a building and the Center for the Arts is about more than just selling tickets.
“Central to our work is the idea of community engagement,” Waalkes said. “We work purposefully at the Center for the Arts to bring artists of regional, national, and international prominence who share our passion for learning, discovery, and engagement and embrace the many traditions, cultures, and ideas that reflect the diversity of our world. This exploration and collaboration creates a two-way process where community members can learn from artists and vice versa.”
In particular, the center contributes to Virginia Tech students’ education and provides ways for them to participate in the creative process. This includes everything from special collaborative experiences with visiting artists to student-led programming.
“Attending Center for the Arts’ performances has helped me to personally get in touch with both the Virginia Tech and Blacksburg communities and to learn more about American culture and traditions,” said Mohammed Seyam of Egypt, a doctoral student in computer science. “I’ve seen performances from different places across the world and from different places in the U.S., each with different musical and visual flavors. I appreciate the high-quality and diverse performances that cover a wide area of the international art landscape.”
The center frequently invites student performers and artists to share their talents in conjunction with visiting artists’ activities and to fill the center’s Grand Lobby and other public spaces during events. For example, SalsaTech showed patrons the finer points of salsa dancing, and Dhamaal Dance Team performed the Garba, a form of folk dance from Guajarat, India. Student musicians from the School of Performing Arts and student-led ensembles such as Juxtaposition, Sensations, Expressions, and Soulstice, performed before center events.
The center’s art galleries showcase work from undergraduate and graduate students from the College of Architecture and Urban Studies and other colleges across campus affiliated with the Institute for Creativity, Arts, and Technology. Exhibitions have included traditional and trans-media work, such as kinetic sculptures, and computer-generated, projected imagery.
Engagement events have included master classes with professional dancers and artistic directors, question-and-answer sessions, and talks about creativity and technology in the arts. Students were invited to rehearsals with orchestras, Shakespearean monologue workshops, instrument demonstrations, work reviews, and professional development exercises.
“The master classes and pre-show sessions that have been provided by several artists at the center were new to me,” Seyam said. “I found they provided a good chance to know more about the performers and the show itself and added a lot to my actual show experience. The close interaction between artists and audience in such sessions creates an intimacy between attendants and the performer and provides a complete event experience for the audience.”
Students join faculty and community members to present My Take Talks in the galleries. This series invites people to share their perspectives on the art.
More than 100 student workers, plus graduate assistants, support the center while gaining professional experience. Students can curate programs through an effort spearheaded by Jon Catherwood-Ginn, the center’s partnerships and engagement manager.
“Not only do we want to open our doors to students to participate in engagement activities with visiting and local artists, but we want to create space for them to articulate and realize their own programmatic choices,” Catherwood-Ginn said. “We are working with students as they design performances and events for the center, based on the artists that they’re inspired by and the themes that they would like to explore. That way, students bring their own personal stories into the process while learning how to program within a professional presenting environment.”
Seyam has been helping to develop programming. He said the opportunity, “assures students that the Center for the Arts is a place where students’ voices can be heard, and where students’ suggestions are seriously taken into consideration.”
For more information on this topic, contact Susan Bland at 540-231-1986.
Before we kick everything into high gear for the 2014-15 season, let’s take a look back at one of the many exciting moments from the inaugural season: the building dedication ceremony at the Moss Arts Center!
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Folks visited from near and far to witness as the building was officially dedicated the day before our Center for the Arts Gala Celebration, on April 25, 2014.
Former Virginia Tech President Charles Steger said a few words, followed by remarks from some of our generous donors. It still feels surreal that we’ve come this far, with our first season in the MAC under our belts! Thank you to everyone who’s helped get us here.
We love to let you guys peek behind the curtain here at the Moss Arts Center, into areas of the building you wouldn’t usually see, or to learn about processes about which you hardly think twice while watching a performance.
Have you ever wondered what goes into lighting the stage to give you, our lovely patrons, a perfect experience?
Our lighting supervisor, Gustavo Araoz, lets you in on the secret to his success.
Be sure to check back here for more sneak peeks from our staff.