Alumni “ReConnect” in UNO Art Gallery exhibition

UNO Art Gallery’s current exhibit, “ReConnect,” is displaying art pieces from past UNO students throughout the past several decades. Photo by Danielle Meadows

Danielle Meadows

Pieces by selected alumni are on display in the UNO Art Gallery, bringing artists back to their beginnings.

The gallery’s latest exhibition “ReConnect” celebrates a program that got its start over a century ago. When art was introduced as a major, UNO was still Omaha University. The latest exhibit includes everything from traditional canvases to computer animations – a reflection of the program’s history, growth and success.

“I think it’s really interesting to see what all of these people have done since they’ve been here and how far and wide the program has gone through the work of our graduates,” said Denise Brady, gallery coordinator.

Over the years, many alumni exhibitions have been mounted at the gallery. “ReConnect” is the first juried by a curator outside of the university, aiming to reach the UNO studio art graduates spread across the United States. Records from Brady and faculty, letters from the alumni association and reaching out through social media helped recruit artists for this exhibit.

The juror for this exhibition was Teliza Rodriguez, the curator for Kearney’s Museum of Nebraska Art. Alumni artists interested in being featured in the exhibit were to submit images of five different works and a resume (with no name attached) to a website created just for this show. After a lengthy process of considering each piece and reading about the artist’s experiences, Rodriguez narrowed down 218 submissions, choosing 50 pieces by 26 former students to display.

From 1964, BFA graduate Lloyd Menard’s intricate, Victorian-themed prints, to the way artists like 2014 BFA graduate Heather Peebles used art to heal from trauma, all works are greatly diverse in style and inspiration. Each piece has something effect-ing about it—a deeply intimate quality that makes viewers wonder about who created it.

“If there’s one thing about art, it’s that it is kind of personal for the artist,” said Brady. “Whether it comes across as a personal statement or not, there’s a part of the person that goes into it.”

“ReConnect” is an exhibition that not only celebrates the history and talent of UNO art graduates, but the faculty that got them there. Each artist featured received criticism on their works throughout college, molding the former students into successful artists and proud alumni of the program.

The gallery is hosting several upcoming events this semester. The first is the Masters & Music scholarship fundraiser at 5 p.m. on Jan. 21. Artists featured in the “ReConnect” exhibition will be presenting their pieces. Tickets for non-students are $15 and free for UNO students.

Two assistant professors will visit the UNO Art Gallery to give lectures about their artistic experiences. Angela Drakeford of the Massachusetts College of Art and Design is speaking on Jan. 31. Richard Saxton of the University of Colorado-Boulder will present on Feb. 14. Both lectures take place at noon and are free to students and the Omaha community.

The UNO Art Gallery is located in the Weber Fine Arts building. Visiting the gallery is free, with hours Tuesday through Friday from 10 a.m. to 3 p.m. “ReConnect” runs until Feb. 16.