"Katrina Bello: Knowable Earth"  
Visual Arts Center of NJ
May 8 - September 26, 2021
September 3-26,  2021
Link to the exhibition

Knowable Earth

Katrina Bello’s drawings and videos explore the beauty, complexity and fragility of the natural world, often focusing on landscapes or remote wildernesses. Reflecting the idea that nature is experienced initially though the body, Bello’s images of tree bark, rocks and ocean water represent things she has physically held, collected or observed. Touch is an integral part of the work for Bello, not only as a way for her to know a place or object but also as a drawing technique -her fingers and hands applying the medium onto paper.

With Knowable Earth, Bello’s intention is for the viewer to feel immersed in nature while experiencing it on a more intimate scale. Her drawings are either monumental or very small, paralleling the different ways we experience nature. We may feel completely enveloped by the vastness of a desert, sea, mountain, or forest, but we are also able to touch small pieces of these environments - a rock, a shell, or a piece of tree bark. In a poetic video blending these ideas, muddy ocean waters run over a small rock held in the palm of a hand.

Bello developed this body of work during the COVID-19 pandemic, while she was missing the tactile and physical connections to the places and things that normally inform her work. Instead, she relied on her own knowledge, as well as testimony of others. The two large “Salix” drawings are based on her memories of bark from a willow tree in Montclair that no longer exists. Inspired by space exploration and astronomy, her small still life drawings of rocks collected from Maine and Nevada incorporate images of nebulae, connecting Earth to its celestial origins. And her large drawing “30,000 Tons” similarly combines images of water from the Atlantic Ocean with observatory images from space. With this work that finds the sublime in the ordinary, Bello creates an experience of earth that is knowable and authentic.

~ exhibition text, Visual Arts Center of New Jersey