CALDWELL, NJ — The Mueller Gallery at Caldwell University will present “Katrina Bello: 40,000 Tons,” opening Feb. 1 and running through Feb. 28. An artist’s talk will be held Wednesday, Feb. 1, from 5 to 6 p.m. with the opening reception to follow from 6 to 8 p.m. The exhibit and events are free and open to the public. The gallery is located at 120 Bloomfield Ave. in Caldwell.
In her artist’s statement, Bello explained that the title of the exhibition, “40,000 Tons,” refers to the volume of cosmic dust that falls on planet Earth annually. Bello said that, in addition to counting on photography, botany and research in Earth sciences, she began looking in the last three years into astronomy and astrogeology — especially images sourced from NASA land- and space-based observatories. Bello said that while becoming more interested in the physical sources of her subjects, she also became more intrigued with abiogenesis, a theory of the genesis of Earth.
According to gallery director Suzanne Kammin Baron, cosmic dust became for Bello a metaphor for her process of working with crushed pastel powder on paper. Bello said she finds this medium to be a focused and tactile way of representing the patterns and forms found in tree bark, rocks and ocean waters. Baron also describes Bello as using scale — making work that measures 5 by 8 inches or 5 by 8 feet — to create for the viewer either a sense of monumentality or intimacy in relation to the landscape.
Bello said that when she is in the studio, questions about her place, effect and purpose in the natural world occupy her thoughts. These questions, she explained, come from her experience of migrating from coastal environments in the Philippines that have undergone dramatic change and where some parts no longer exist.
Bello is a visual artist whose work is informed by observations and experiences of natural environments encountered during migration. She has participated in solo and group exhibitions in the United States and the Philippines, and has been awarded fellowships and residencies in the United States. Recently, she received a Mid Atlantic Arts Foundation Creative Fellowship for a residency at Millay Arts. She is an upcoming artist-in-residence at the Tusen Takk Foundation in Leland, Mich., and Helene Wurlitzer Foundation in Taos, N.M. Bello is the founder of North Willow, an informal artist-run space dedicated to site-specific installation art. She lives and works in Montclair.
Photos Courtesy of Caldwell University