EMU Exhibit Features BRCC Prof’s Work

Paintings inspired by two trips to Ireland will be on display in the third floor art gallery at Eastern Mennonite University.

John M. Bell, artistPhoto by Bridget Baylor

An opening reception for the artist, John M. Bell, an assistant professor of art at Blue Ridge Community College (BRCC) in Weyers Cave, Va., will be held 2:30-4 p.m. Sunday, Jan. 15, in the gallery.

Bell’s exhibit, titled "An Turas: Ireland Journey," grew out of travels to the west of Ireland in May 2003 and June 2005. His 2005 stay included an international-artist-in-residency at the Cill Rialaig Project in Ballinskelligs, County Kerry.

"The subjects of the paintings are primarily Bronze Age sites that have spiritual significance," Bell said. "At these sites, one finds the ruins of stone structures: circles, standing stones, dwellings and tombs. They all signify in some way the human desire to understand and connect with nature – to find meaning in our existence.

"I found these to be incredibly beautiful sites, both aesthetically and spiritually," Bell said. "They are often positioned high on ridges, with breath-taking views of the surrounding countryside and the ocean."

The artist’s goal, in his words, is "to go beyond the mere representation of the sites to capture the physical, spiritual and historical essence of the locations." He sought to do this through the use of color, texture, juxtaposed images and some degree of abstraction, working with both oils and acrylics with canvas and wood panels as supports.

Bell earned a bachelor of arts in fine art from Indiana University of Pennsylvania and a master of fine arts degree from James Madison University. His works have been displayed throughout Virginia, North Carolina, Pennsylvania, Ohio and California.

Recent solo shows have included the Cleo Driver Miller Art Gallery at Bridgewater College and Turn of the Century Fine Arts Gallery in Berkeley, Calif. In 2005, his works were included in the 26th annual Roanoke City Juried Art Show (Art Museum of Western Virginia) and the Virginia Mennonite Retirement Community annual Juried Art Exhibition in Harrisonburg.

The exhibit will be open for viewing during regular library hours daily through Feb. 3. Admission is free.

Gallery hours:
Mon.-Thur. 7:45 a.m.-11 p.m.
Fri. 7:45 a.m.-6 p.m.
Sat. 10 a.m. – 5 p.m.
Sun. 2 p.m.-11 p.m.