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Penn State Altoona Professor Displays Art at Juniata Museum

(Posted October 31, 2011)

Rebecca Strzelec specializes in art generated in layers and designed on a computer.

HUNTINGDON, Pa. -- Computer-aided design plays a large part in the art of Rebecca Strzelec, who has created intriguing self-portraits by imagining works that accumulate new layers over time -- much like the human aging process in a new exhibition at the Juniata College Museum of Art on display from Thursday, Nov. 10 through Feb. 4.

Strzelec, associate professor of visual arts at Penn State Altoona, calls the exhibit "The Age of Bears and Other Self-Portraits." Strzelec was inspired to create these varied representations of herself by a 2005 camping trip during which she learned that wildlife scientists can estimate the age of black bears by examining the ring patterns that form on the animals' teeth over time.

There will be a reception at 5 p.m., Thursday, Nov. 10 at the museum that is free and open to the public.

The art produced for this exhibit emerged initially from a computer. Strzelec, coordinator of the Visual Art Studies Program at the Altoona campus, uses Computer-aided Design to create a three-dimensional object that is subsequently constructed layer by layer using plastic resins.

The self-portraits in display at the museum are non-representational, meaning they depict not the artist herself, but the thoughts, ideas and personal experiences of the artist. By exploring the connections between science, art, nature and time, Strzelec can attempt to capture links between microscopic layers and repetitive patterns found in nature and the modern accumulations of computer generated objects.

Strzelec was inspired to create these varied representations of herself by a camping trip where she learned wildlife scientists can estimate the age of black bears by examining the ring patterns that form on the animals' teeth over time.

Strzelec's work reflects, "the merging of science, technology, design and personal history." She sees her work with computer construction as redefining her art by taking two disparate elements and forcing them to interact.

Many of the works were originally designed to be worn, either as jewelry or other wearable art.

Strzelec started her career at Penn State Altoona in 2002 as an assistant professor. She was promoted to associate professor in 2008. From 1999 to 2002, she worked and an instructor or graduate assistant at Temple University's Tyler School of Art.

She earned a bachelor's degree in art in 1998 from Temple University and went on to earn a master's degree in metals/jewelry/CAD from the same institution. Her artwork is in the permanent collections of such museums as The Museum of Art & Design in New York City and the Tyler School of Art.

Her work has been exhibited at Illinois Central College, the National Ornamental Metal Museum, the Oregon College of Art & Craft, and the Philadelphia Museum of Art. She also was an artist in residence at Penn State and at the Millay Colony for the Arts. She is a member of the Association for Computing Machinery, CadLABoration and the College Art Association.

Contact John Wall at wallj@juniata.edu or (814) 641-3132 for more information.