Artwork by Jim Toia, director of the Community-Based Teaching program, is featured in two major exhibitions. Islands is a solo exhibition running through Oct. 16 at the Kim Foster Gallery in New York City. His multimedia installation Dissolving Gardens runs through Nov. 13 as part of the 2010 WLCM BCK SHOW at the Mason Gross Galleries at Rutgers University.
Islands, Toia’s sixth solo exhibition at Kim Foster, explores how humans understand their relationship with the natural world. Inspired by the environment surrounding his home in northwestern New Jersey, Toia’s work emphasizes the natural cycle of life and death. Spider web drawings point to the dichotomy between strength and fragility while spore drawings simultaneously highlight the micro and macro. His ant colony casts evoke an array of natural wonders, from river systems to Bonsai trees to optic nerves.
Toia will discuss Dissolving Gardens 6:30 p.m. Wednesday, Sept. 29, at Mason Gross Galleries. The video series joins geographical location, nature, environmental science, and technology to place the viewer in a space of tranquil meditation. Accompanied by the native sounds of the sea and falling leaves, which were digitally recorded and manipulated by Princeton, N.J., composer Frances Whites, Toia’s work depicts the eastern shoreline and western river and mountain terrain combined with the smell of the sea and pinned lichen.
Dissolving Gardens is part of cross-disciplinary meditation on the subject of water and will inspire the upcoming BFA Annual 2010 Water Show curated by the Mason Gross School of Art students. It is concurrently running with the Jane Voorhees Art Museum exhibition Water through Jan. 2, 2011.
A sculptor whose work has appeared in more than 85 solo exhibitions and group shows around the world, Toia’s work has been reviewed in a variety of outlets, including the New York Times, Art in America, Sculpture Magazine, Time Out, Star Ledger, Philadelphia Inquirer, and Village Voice. His art has been exhibited throughout the United States, Europe, and the Far East and is in many collections, including the Morris Museum in Morristown, N.J., AT&T Collection, Dallas Museum of Art, and Hunterdon Museum of Art. He is the recipient of a New Jersey State Council on the Arts Fellowship and Geraldine Dodge Foundation Grant.
He played a key role in developing the College’s Community-Based Teaching program in which Lafayette faculty, honors students in art, and visiting professional artists work with area high school and adult art students and has served as its director since its founding in 2001. He is the founding coordinator of the Maggin Family Creative and Performing Arts Fellowship program. The initiative provides selected members of each year’s incoming class with up to $7,500 over their four years at the College to pursue interests in the arts through special projects, internships, research, study abroad, and other activities.
Toia is also a faculty member for the Economic Empowerment and Global Learning Project in which teams of students and faculty from disciplines across Lafayette’s four academic divisions collaborate to help jump start the economies of communities in the United States and Honduras. Toia earned his M.F.A. at the School of Visual Arts and bachelor’s degree from Bard College.