Frederick Gallery: June 2018


Solo Exhibition by Joseph Di Bella


Artist Statement: As an artist for most of my life, and as a recent retiree of a rich and rewarding span of forty years in academia, both my life and artistic pursuits have changed in some respects and have remained the same in others. I find myself still actively engaged in questioning and yet often returning to the ideas, materials and processes of my early life as these have prompted and sometimes sabotaged my efforts. There is no easy road for the artist who is constantly searching for the best vehicle and right direction to travel. I think that is because for me the exploration with all its digression, stumbling, annoyance and abrupt interruption is a far more satisfying means of discovery than focusing on the single destination. Maybe that is an excuse for my inherent distraction. But my distractions occasionally convert into focused obsessions. Among these are textual sources, such as the Books of Job and Ecclesiastes, the poetry of Dante and Quasimodo, and Byzantine icons. I move from landscape to skyscape, and microscopic to cosmic space. Materials range from traditional oil, acrylic, egg tempera, encaustic and watercolor to ashes, buckshot and found objects. Since processes hold their own peculiar qualities, I often combine them to play surface contrasts within the same context.

This exhibit will feature several works from my career, including some current pieces, demonstrating changes, recurrences, adaptations and twists in a number of problems I have set out to tackle. Showing examples of thirty-plus years of art-making gives a broad view of themes, motifs, images, and structures that often reappear. Yet everything goes through change or is assimilated over time.

Biography: Joseph Di Bella, Distinguished Professor Emeritus of Art, taught at the University of Mary Washington in Fredericksburg, Virginia from 1977 to 2016. He served as chair of the Department of Art and Art History from 1990 to 1993 and 1996 to 1999 and Director of University Galleries from 1983 to 1988. Instrumental in the establishment of the gallery program and Ridderhof Martin Gallery at Mary Washington, he was Director of University Galleries from 1983 to 1988 and Interim Director in 1989 and 1997-98. From 1994 to 2003 he was co-director of the University’s program in Urbino, Italy. Currently, he serves as Vice-President of the Board of the Fredericksburg Center for the Creative Arts. He holds a BA in art history from Rutgers and MA and MFA degrees in painting from Northern Illinois University. A signature member of the National Watercolor Society and affiliated with other professional art organizations, he has exhibited in regional, national and international venues.