Two works created by Newnan’s latest artist-in-residence, Christine Cassano, were added to the permanent collection of the University of West Georgia.
A commissioned sculptural installation and a mixed media panel were revealed Wednesday and will be displayed in the lobby of the UWG Newnan campus.
Cassano, a mixed media and sculpture artist from Phoenix, Arizona, was the fifth artist to have been selected to participate in the local artist-in-residence program.
The program, sponsored by the ArtRez Foundation, allows artists, writers and musicians from all over the world to live and work in Newnan for a short period of time. Guests are given the opportunity to explore the unique city while giving back to the community by offering workshops, or, in Cassano’s case, completing a commissioned piece of work.
“My work, in short, is an exploration — I am fascinated by interdependent biological systems and their relationships to external technology,” Cassano said Wednesday after revealing the work commissioned by UWG.
The artist’s interest in human biology and science stemmed from a tragic accident she sustained at age 30. Cassano experienced a number of health problems as a result, including a complete hip replacement. The artist also battles an autoimmune disorder likely brought on by the trauma of the accident and subsequent surgeries.
“When I was ill, I threw myself into research,” Cassano said, explaining that she wanted to know everything she could about what was wrong with her body — and how to correct it, or live with it. “After that, my work shifted into biology and technology and how they work together.”
Cassano continues to explore this theme in the installation commissioned by UWG, in addition to depicting her unique interpretation of Newnan.
“So, I got to spend all of this really wonderful time in the community and one of the things I knew upon coming here was the story of [Newnan] hospital. I knew what an important landmark and historic thing this building is for the community,” Cassano explained. “I wanted to create a piece under the umbrella of my own theme of biology and technology while still tying in this landmark and history.”
The artist chose to use small vials mounted in kiln-fired porcelain pieces, which call attention to both human biology and the former use of the UWG building: a hospital. Cassano then copied and scaled down the building’s original blueprint and affixed the tiny image into the center of each vial.
“Instead of filling [the vials], I used images to act almost as the nucleus, or center, of each,” Cassano explained. “... When you see the piece from afar, it appears as though it is a morphogenetic pattern, something you might see under a microscope… then the textures engage you and draw you in.”
The artist noted that, similarly, she felt drawn into the community by the history of a single building.
“Just like with memories — they can be small, vague and distant, but they are the nucleus of something larger,” Cassano said. “I feel like that about this building. And, that has been my experience in this community as an artist.”
Cassano’s installation can be found in the front lobby of the UWG Newnan campus, located at 80 Jackson Street, home of the former Newnan Hospital. For more information on Christine Cassano and the Newnan artist-in-residence program, visit www.newnanartist.org.