Connecting art with physical world

Connecting art with physical world

By Jessi Savino

Pam Longobardi is on a quest to figure out “where humans belong in the bigger picture.” Her exploration is done through her artwork, which she shared with Northeastern students last night in Shillman Hall.

Since 1990, Longobardi has created more than 25 solo exhibitions and 65 group exhibitions in galleries and museums around the world including in the United States, Italy, Spain, Finland, Poland and Japan. Her work, which includes painting, photography, fabricated objects and installations, has been commissioned for corporate and private collections and has won numerous awards like the Tennessee Arts Commission Visual Arts Fellowship and the Chancellor’s award for Research and Creative Achievement.

In her work, Longobardi explores the themes of “the psychological relationship of humans to nature and the physical world.” She said she felt inspired to explore this relationship when she moved to Montana, where the open landscape caused her to “feel shrunken in scale in comparison to the vastness of the natural world.”

Longobardi started working at archeological digs, which she said changed her conception of time and place. She would use pieces of fossilized remains from these digs to create composite drawings that, when published as fact, changed her perception of science and history.

For a while, Longobardi worked as a firefighter. Not only was the job “good for adrenaline junkies,” Longobardi said, but it put her in contact with a scale of nature she had never seen before.

“Humans were really diminished in their relationship with the larger picture,” she said.

This new philosophy on humans and nature led Longobardi to create a series of oil paintings on canvas in which she experimented with physical place and mapping. She then worked with copper, which she calls a “stand-in for nature” because of its unpredictability.

She has since done many copper works, in which she incorporates ideas of how humans see themselves.

“Humans don’t see themselves as part of the natural world,” Longobardi said. “If you call someone an animal, it’s a bad thing. There are complicated psychological aspects.”

Recently Longobardi has worked on pieces that incorporated the relationship between man and nature and included themes of death or sex.

Annie Rosen, a middler graphic design major, said lectures like Longobardi’s are a good opportunity for students to learn the context and origins of artwork.

“Just looking at the art, we wouldn’t know a lot of the story behind it,” Rosen said. “The artist’s point of view isn’t something you can just get from a book.”

Longobardi’s latest project is working with the scientific community to raise awareness about environmental issues like pollution in the ocean.

“I hope students can start thinking about and connecting to the physical world,” she said. “Amazing things happen at every moment, you just have to pay attention and maintain focus on the world around you.”

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