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Classical WNIU is Northern Illinois' home for the best in Classical Music and the Arts. Listen at 90.5fm in Northern Illinois, and also 105.7fm in Rockford, IL.

New Genres Art Space: As Exhibition Shows, Its Name Is Its Mission

Guy Stephens
New Genres Art Space's Iga Duchalska and Jason Judd watching an animation by artist Selina Trepp

An exhibition in Rockford closes this Saturday with a live musical performance by the artist. She'll interpret animated images she created.  It’s part of an effort by a new gallery space to promote art that goes beyond the paintbrush.

New Genres Art Space co-founders Jason Judd and Iga Duchalska usher their visitor into a large, high-ceiling room on an upper floor of the Rockford Public Library’s Nordlof Center in downtown Rockford. It’s one result of a partnership between the institutions.

Judd said the idea behind New Genres is something the husband-and-wife team have thought about in some fashion since meeting as graduate students at Northern Illinois University. He's now a museum curator, she's an artist and arts educator.

In some ways, it resembles a black box theater – except it’s white. But Duchalska said the concept of a neutral, flexible space is the same.

“It’s very modifiable," she said, "so it’s a different experience every time you come in. For each show, for each artist, we repaint, we move the equipment around. The projection, the animations or videos are on different spaces, different surfaces.”

Judd turned off the lights, hit a key, and the space was transformed to the magical, and dizzying, effect that Duchalska explained. 

“It’s a three-channel video," she said. "So on three surfaces, on three walls, you see different animations playing their stop motion animation, geometric shapes and figures and lines and patterns.”

At this moment at least, there’s no sound. Judd said that’s deliberate. He said the artist, Selina Trepp, started as an experimental musician.

“And she spoke to us about often being asked to produce an animation to somebody’s score, which is a very usual collaboration between animators and musicians. And that prompted her to consider a different way to use her animation -- as the score.” 

So, musicians have been invited to interpret and translate the films into sound in a live, improvised performance. That happened at the exhibit’s September opening with musicians Veronica Soria Martinez and Tyler Rudick.  Musicians were also to come play on a weekly basis.

And it will happen at its close. Spectralina is Trepp’s experimental music project with husband and partner Dan Bitney of the band Tortoise. They'll improvise an electronic soundscape to the animations she created on Saturday in a performance beginning at 6 p.m

That explains one meaning of the show’s title, “I Work With What I Have.” Judd said Trepp is also making a statement with her choice of materials. Everything you see in the films was recycled from materials she already had in her studio and reused for the project. That also fits with the title of the show.

Credit Guy Stephens
Iga Duchalska points to one of the animations playing on the walls of New Genres Art Space as husband and co-founder Jason Judd looks on.


But, Judd said, New Genres is not just a gallery.

“We are a nonprofit," he said, "that focuses on education, communication, and hopefully revealing our experience and our talents and our teaching abilities, revealing why new media, why electronic computer based new genre art is important to everybody in their everyday life.”

Animation and sound art classes, an artist-in-residence and a student-in-residence are already happening or on the schedule of the art space. So is a show by time art students at NIU. Judd and Duchalska said the idea is to establish in Rockford a center for digital and animation art. A center that can sustain and grow as it reaches out to the community. And a center that will continue to promote new genres of art to new generations. 

Guy Stephens produces news stories for the station, and coordinates our online events calendar, PSAs and Arts Calendar announcements. In each of these ways, Guy helps keep our listening community informed about what's going on, whether on a national or local level. Guy's degrees are in music, and he spent a number of years as a classical host on WNIU. In fact, after nearly 20 years with Northern Public Radio, the best description of his job may be "other duties as required."