VCU Arts graduate showcases work at Tompkins-McCaw Library

Photo by Ali Jones
Photo by Ali Jones
Photo by Ali Jones
Photo by Ali Jones

Striking and scientific masking tape art creations were unveiled at MCV’s Tompkins-McCaw Library earlier this month.

Nickolai Walko, a VCUarts alum, unveiled his exhibit, “Unmasked: A Visual Dissection,” featuring 30 anatomically-inspired, masking tape creations on Oct. 22. The exhibit is free to view until its closing on Jan. 31, 2016.

“I thought his anatomic-based work was a really good fit for the gallery,” said Teresa Knott, the director of the Tompkins-McCaw Library.“The technique that Nickolai uses to create his pieces with masking tape was intriguing. It is always exciting to see a young person who is so passionate about his chosen path.”

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To create his unique sculptures, Walko begins with a brightly colored single panel or wall. He lays down a full layer of black masking tape, from edge to edge of the surface, then draws his design. Using an exacto blade, he cuts out some pieces of tape, to create a strong contrast image. Walko completes his pieces by spraying the finished work with a polyurethane coating to prevent tape decay.

“When I have the strips of tape laid over my panel, I look at the tape as a skin,” Walko said. “I use an X-Acto blade, which I view as a scalpel cutting into the skin, or tape, to reveal the exposed anatomy.”

Photo by Ali Jones
Photo by Ali Jones

Walko said in pursuing his anatomical perspective, he’s studied hundreds of diagrams by Frank Netter, Henry Grey, Nicolas-Henri Jacob and Leonardo Da Vinci.

“As I go along, I gain an understanding and appreciation for the human body and how it works,” Walko said.

He recently curated and headlined his first show at The National. He has been involved in shows at the Page Bond Gallery, The Nest, Crossroads Art Center and Art Works. Some of his past pieces have been displayed at the Science Museum of Virginia, Classic Rock Coffee Shop and UNOS Organ Transplant Center.

VCU Health primarily features local artists in the Tompkins-McCaw Library gallery space. Earlier this year the director of the cultural arts program for VCU Health, Philip “Muzi” Branch, suggested Walko’s style would fit the library’s focus on featuring art related to the health sciences or created by health sciences practitioners.

Gallery space at the Tompkins-McCaw Library was renovated and updated in 2011. The gallery opened with Bedpan Excellence: Celebrating the Beauty of an Everyday Object in March 2011 and has thrived since.

Past exhibits have incorporated photography projects, including “Wild Things: Far and Near” by VCU School of Dentistry faculty member, Rob Sabatini, “Discover Magica” by VCU School of Medicine instructional designer Jeanne Schlesinger and “Bedpan Excellence: Celebrating the Beauty of an Everyday Object” by William DuBois, a faculty member from the Rochester Institute of Technology.

Tompkins-McCaw Library has also hosted several contests. The initial contest was Rams Reaching Out, featuring photographs that highlighted the outreach work done by students enrolled in health sciences programs.

The most recent was “Through the Looking Glass: An Exhibit of Microscopic Images.” It included images submitted by VCU students, staff, faculty. “Watercolors” by Victor Yanchick featured the work of the former dean of the VCU School of Pharmacy and “Intersections: Art and Science” featured the medical illustrations created by students, faculty and alumni from the VCU School of the Arts Department of Communication Arts.

“We’ve had good attendance at opening events and positive press on the exhibits,” Knott said. “In addition, we have had very strong, favorable feedback from visitors throughout the course of exhibits. Students routinely express their appreciation at having art on our walls to enjoy.”

Sophia Belletti, Staff Writer

11802522_10207448112303567_588286187022952754_oSophia is a sophomore journalism major who writes for the Odyssey in addition to the news, sports and spectrum sections of the CT. Sophia also works in sales at Nordstrom and likes hiking and going to concerts. // Facebook | Twitter | LinkedIn

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