Artists Jonathon Ricci and Anne Hughes consider their travels in Iceland—an isolated but geologically unique part of the world—as the source of life for a large amount of pieces.
“There is a certain vibration to Iceland that makes me feel…alive. It makes me feel safe,” Ricci said.
Ricci and Hughes spoke about these pieces in an artist’s talk on Feb. 20 at Raritan Valley Community College’s Art Gallery. The artist's talk was based on their work in the art gallery's current exhibit, “Iceland Inspired."
35 of the 52 pieces displayed were by Ricci, who spent the past two summers in Nes Artist Residency in Skagaströnd. He said he was first inspired to travel to Iceland in the early '90s after watching the film “Cold Fever,” which follows the misadventures of a Japanese businessman travelling through Iceland.
Ricci enjoyed his journey through Iceland so much that he has applied for residency. Migration is the key message he reflects on in his work, and he embraces this theme through the usage of birds. Ricci incorporates collage elements of travel documents, maps and images of the bird life found in Northern Iceland.
Landscape, nature, environmental issues and her spiritual and emotional connections to Iceland inspires Hughes. She contributed five pieces to the gallery: "Variations," "Elephant Notes," "Formations 1," "Formations 2" and "Formations 3."
“I don’t think of where I’m gonna end up, I have no idea what my work is gonna look like in the end. I just start and see where it takes me. It’s a journey in itself and I think that’s partly why I also enjoy travelling,” Hughes said about her approach to art.
John Vlahakis and Bob Krist are artists featured in the exhibit who were not at the artist’s talk.
Krist is a well-known National Geographic photographer and contributed two archival photographs to the gallery, “Reykholt Church” and “Troll’s House.”
Vlahakis’ has 10 archival photographs in the gallery. One piece in particular, “Storm Coming,” was a standout. The photograph is of a black sand beach in Iceland. A high definition camera took this and no editing was done on the shot.
“Iceland Inspired” will continue until Mar. 13. The exhibit made its debut at ZIA Gallery in Chicago in March of 2014.
Darren McManus and the ZIA Gallery coordinated this event. Ricci and Hughes are professors at RVCC and Hughes is the manager of the art gallery.
Gallery hours for the exhibition are Mondays, 3-8 p.m.; Tuesdays, 10 a.m.-3 p.m.; Wednesdays, 3-8 p.m.; Thursdays, 10 a.m.-6 p.m.; and Fridays, 1-4 p.m.
Featured image caption: John Vlahakis, “Waiting for Summer,” edition of 5, 16" x 24", archival photograph, 2014.