Wesley Berg’s “Paw Paw: Works on Paper” comes to VAC


Artist Wesley Berg is from Dayton, Ohio and has been an artist in residence all over the world from Iceland to New Zealand. His trail running and traveling, especially throughout nature, has inspired his works.

Berg’s artist demonstration took place Wednesday from 9 a.m. to 3 p.m. in The Carroll Art Gallery inside the Visual Arts Center. His artist talk was Wednesday evening at 5 p.m. in the VAC.

“There’s something about drawing that is really direct,” Berg said. “It feels like this direct translation of thoughts you’re having, and other mediums that I’ve tried and worked on in the past have required a bit more time and patience, whether it’s mixing paints or firing a kiln.”

For the artist demonstration, Berg did a piece from start to finish on the back wall of the Carroll Art Gallery. This gave the public, but especially the students, a chance to see firsthand what the process is like. Berg said he likes working with charcoal because it’s one of the more Earth-like materials which ties into the nature of the pieces.

“There’s something about using charcoal — it’s a real earthy, kind of messier material, so I feel with that directness and that kind of messiness, there’s something there that’s connecting me, I think, to being outside and being in a more natural state,” Berg said.

The significance of the name of his exhibit, “Paw Paw: Works on Paper,” comes from a few different things, such as the fruit, a nature shelter in Berg’s hometown where he would spend a lot of time named the Paw Paw Shelter and even the paws of the animals featured in his works.

“There’s just something repetitive about the word paw paw, and the symmetry within the word that even appears in some of my work was appealing to me, too,” Berg said.

For the talk, Berg focused on his influences, such as Philip Guston, Käthe Kollwitz, William Kentridge and former professors Arnold Mesches and Jerry Cutler. He also talked about what he tries to express through his work: a certain level of realism, nature and, in particular, the treatment of the environment. The room was packed with students and educators for the presentation.

“I’ve always liked making big work. I think the scale being a bit larger is to the level of confrontation that I want. These drawings are going to occupy your space and you can’t deny that,” Berg said.

The opening reception for the exhibit will be Thursday, Feb. 23 from 4 to 6 p.m. in the Carroll Art Gallery.

Wesley Berg’s exhibit, “Paw Paw: Works on Paper,” will be up through March 31 and is free and open to the public during the VAC’s Carroll Art Gallery hours, 10 a.m. to 4 p.m. Monday through Friday.

Hannah Swartz can be contacted at [email protected]