School of Art + Art History alumnus Wesley Berg (MFA ‘07) will host two solo exhibitions, Paw Paw: Works on Paper and Perimeter in the spring of 2017. Paw Paw will run from February 20 - March 31 at Marshall University School of Art and Design’s Carroll Galley while Perimeter will run from March 8 - April 13 at Brazosport College. Both exhibitions are focused on wolves.
Berg said there were a couple of reasons why he chose the name Paw Paw.
“Paw Paw for the binary, mirroring of the word 'paw' next to 'paw’,” he said. “Also as a reference to the paw of the wolf. In addition, Paw Paw was the name of a camp shelter in the woods near my house growing up in Ohio. Paw paw is also a lesser known natural fruit.”
He said Paw Paw is a representation of the social interactions that take place within a society.
“Paw Paw is a grouping of 10 large charcoal drawings using images of wolves to describe a connection to landscape and social interactions we, as a society, have with each other and with the natural world,” he said.
Perimeter, while still focusing on wolves, is meant to represent the boundaries of nature, society and countries.
“Perimeter is a grouping of several large charcoal drawings, again focusing on wolf imagery,” he said. “However, the gallery space at Brazosport College lends itself more to horizontal compositions. Perimeter became an examination of borders -- national borders, natural borders, and social boundaries.”
He said that he hoped visitors formed connections with his pieces and consider the wolves as ambassadors of nature.
“The soft, rich black of the charcoal offers a tactile quality as well as sense of quiet in the absorption of light,” he said. “Within the calm experience, I hope viewers consider the wolves as ambassadors of an environment under pressure, an environment in peril.”
In addition to having two new solo shows, Berg also recently accepted a tenure position as Assistant Professor of Art (Drawing) at Stephen F. Austin State University in Texas. Berg said he found out about the position while he was a visiting assistant professor teaching drawing at the university.
“I applied to the Assistant Professor position in early January,” he said. “A national search was conducted to fill the position. I interviewed via Skype for the first round of interviews. I was then a finalist for the position. The final interviews involved several interviews, public presentation of my work, leading a graduate seminar critique, and offering a teaching demonstration. The whole process took about two months from the time I applied to being offered the position.”
When asked what advice he would give to an artist who wished have a teaching career he said being committed is important.
“Teaching positions at a university level can be challenging to find,” he said. “But if the commitment is there, it is a great route to take. I worked in the NYC art gallery/museum scene prior to teaching. When I decided I wanted to teach, I made that my priority and put all my efforts towards building my studio practice and teaching experiences to get the teaching position I wanted. If an artist thinks of teaching as a ‘fallback’ career, that may become problematic, because there are many many talented artist/teachers who are working towards those jobs. That said, you should pursue the career you want with all the energy you have!”