“American Subtitles,” an exhibition of works in many media by acclaimed Connecticut artists Andres Chaparro and Robert Charles Hudson, will be presented from Monday, Aug. 26, through Sunday, Oct. 6, in the Gallery at the Visual and Performing Arts Center at Western Connecticut State University.
An opening reception for the artists will be held from 6 to 8 p.m. on Thursday, Aug. 29, in the VPAC Gallery on the university’s Westside campus, 43 Lake Ave. Extension in Danbury. The exhibition will be open for viewing from noon to 4 p.m. Monday through Friday and from 1 to 4 p.m. Saturday and Sunday. Admission for the opening reception and general viewing will be free and open to the public; reservations to attend the reception should be made online on the VPAC events web page at www.wcsuvpac.eventbrite.com. The exhibition program is sponsored by the WCSU Department of Art with support from patrons of the Gallery; donations to sustain the program will be accepted.
Chaparro will present an artist talk at 6 p.m. on Thursday, Sept. 19, in the Gallery. Admission will be free and the public is invited; visit www.wcsuvpac.eventbrite.com to RSVP. The talk is sponsored by the WCSU Office of Diversity and Equity.
The exhibition will feature a richly varied range of paintings, sculptures, collages and mixed-media works that interpret the American experience of people of color. Chaparro and Hudson share a common passion in their artistic work to invite and challenge viewers to re-examine social crises from a fresh perspective and to explore the individual’s contributions to humanity, while embracing visions of both unity and diversity.
Chaparro, a Hartford native who pursues his creative work at his Windsor studio, has gained international recognition for mixed-media paintings and collages featuring bold color contrasts and expressive visual representations of legendary jazz artists and their music. Inspired since his youth by the dynamic interplay between art and music, he incorporates oil pastel, marker, crayon, pencil, acrylic, spray paint, found objects and collage in interpretive works that evoke spontaneous and powerful emotions.
“I work without premeditation, simply following the path that each painting sets forth for me,” Chaparro explained. “Through my artwork, I strive to create an example of ideas that reflect my desire to raise social consciousness and cultural awareness. Jazz music is the catalyst of all my work, and plays a major influence in each piece of work.”
An aficionado of the jazz scene during his studies at the Fashion Institute of Technology in New York, Chaparro has found subjects for his interpretive works in John Coltrane, Miles Davis, Christian McBride, Albert Ayler, Billie Holiday, Thelonious Monk and other jazz greats. His images of Ralph Peterson and Aggregate Prime were featured at the 2017 WCSU Jazz Fest and he has held artist residencies at the Montclair and New Haven jazz festivals. He has participated in more than 60 solo and group exhibitions across the Northeast, and his works are held in many public and private collections. He received the SBNO Greater Hartford Arts Leadership Award and the Maria C. Sanchez Arts and Culture Award, and earned nomination for the Latino de Oro prize in arts and culture. His works appeared in the Crooks Press book, “Making the Cut: The World’s Best Collage Artists.”
Chaparro said that his work continues to reflect his spiritual, emotional and intellectual growth as a person and as an artist. “My connection with jazz has fostered the sense of improvisation and freedom in my work,” he observed. “I sometimes feel that I relate more to a jazz musician’s process of composing or performing than I do to an artist creating a piece of art.”
Hudson, a Bristol resident and recipient of a Bachelor of Fine Arts degree from the University of Connecticut, draws inspiration from his family traditions and his African American heritage in his multi-faceted work as a sculptor, painter, collagist and quilter. He has exhibited in more than 20 solo and group shows across Connecticut and in Massachusetts, New York and Washington, D.C.
Among his solo shows have been presentations at the Hartford Public Library, the Mattatuck Museum in Waterbury and the New Britain Museum of American Art. His NBMAA exhibition, “Above the Underground,” explored through quilts and paintings the ways in which slaves communicated with each other on their perilous quest for freedom along the Underground Railroad. His Hartford Public Library show, “The Door of No Return,” evoked through sculpted busts, a canvas tunnel, collages and paintings the journey of kidnapped Africans walking to slave ships bound for the Americas.
Hudson’s sculpture works have included representations in terracotta, stone and marble of the human head. “These are the result of my inner visions and my desire to express the human spirit and the American experience,” he said. “For the ‘American Subtitles’ exhibition, I will be creating metal sculptured work to enhance the message and give another perspective.”
Hudson received a sculpture grant from the Connecticut Commission on the Arts and was commissioned to create a series of paintings for the UConn African American Center. His works are held in the collections of the New Britain Museum, the UConn Health Center and the City of Hartford Division of Cultural Affairs, as well as many corporate and foundation collections. He also is a longtime educator, serving as an art instructor at UConn and public schools in Hartford and New Britain. He remarked after conducting a painting class at the Hartford Library that what inspires him most when working with aspiring artists “is when the students break through their resistance and come to a new place where they realize that creating art is a gift.”
For more information, contact the Department of Art at (203) 837-8403 or the Office of University Relations at (203) 837-8486.