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Tuscarora artists featured at OXS Gallery in Carson City

CARSON CITY, Nevada – Gail Rappa and Elaine Parks are Nevada artists who transform raw and found materials in mysterious and impressive ways and their work is the centerpiece of a new exhibit at the Nevada Art Council’s OXS Gallery.

Lung-moon_Megan EditsThe exhibit, titled “High Desert Alchemy,” and curated by Megan Kay, will be in place until June 2. An artist talk and reception is scheduled for May 23 from 5 to 7:30 p.m. It is free and open to the public.

Alchemy can be defined historically as the medieval practice of attempting to turn base metals into gold and to harness natural elements for the creation of elixirs that would cure disease and prolong life. It is an ancestor of modern chemistry, entangled in a philosophical and magical context. More broadly though, Webster’s dictionary also defines alchemy as, “a power or process that changes or transforms something in a mysterious or impressive way.”

In “High Desert Alchemy,” Rappa and Parks, who both live in Tuscarora in Elko County, explore time, transformation, and death in their artwork.

The exhibit includes pieces from Rappa’s series titled, “Lung,” which she began after her mother died from lung disease.

“The image of the lung has become an important touchstone for me as a reminder of the precious and precarious gift of breath,” she said. “I continue to explore and experiment with variations on the lung silhouette, along with the bird and thorny vine image which morphed from one of my lung drawings. I started with metal, but continue to find myself drawn to softer materials as well as poetry. Like my grieving process, this series continues to unfold in unforeseen ways.”

Parks’ work “Constellations,” which explores the awe-inspiring high desert sky of Northern Nevada, also makes up the “Alchemy,” exhibit.

IMG_0929“This spectacle is something we share with ancient people – the same light from distant stars stirs our imagination, then as now,” Parks said in describing her work. “I am contemplating the awe of nature, imaging the night sky as a powerful phenomenon that is transformative in some way. In this series, I work with various materials that feel aged or enduring and search for a commonality in disparate ideas and materials, metaphorically connecting what has become lost or detached.”

About the artists:

Gail Rappa creates one-of-a-kind wearable art and sculpture from precious metals, hand-carved elements, and semi-precious stones. In 1997, Rappa and her husband, plein-air painter Ron Arthaud, moved toTuscarora where they live and work year-round in a restored brick house and assay office from the 1870s with their two children.

Rappa is the founder and president of Friends of Tuscarora & Independence Valley and has served on the boards of Elko Arts and Culture and the Elko Family Resource Center. She has taught for Very Special Arts and currently teaches metal fabrication at Great Basin College in Elko, where she helped to create the art gallery and held the positon of gallery curator. Rappa currently serves on the board of the Nevada Arts Council.

Elaine Parks, a native of Los Angeles, received her MFA from California State University, Los Angeles in 1999. Feeling the need for a very different life experience, she relocated to extremely rural Tuscarora, Nevada, where the sparse landscape’s elusive beauty shaped her ideas about the human relationship to the environment.

During a decade in Nevada, Parks has exhibited at the Nevada Museum of Art, Reno; Oats Park Gallery, Fallon; Barrick Museum, Las Vegas; and the DIY art exhibition Nada Dada Motel. She taught for seven years at Great Basin College and twice received the prestigious Artist Fellowship from the Nevada Arts Council.

Both Parks and Rappa received a commission to create artwork for the Nevada Arts Council’s Governor’s Arts Awards recipients.

The Nevada Arts Council, a division of the Department of Tourism and Cultural Affairs, was founded in 1967 as the state agency charged with ensuring that state and national funds support cultural activity and encourage participation in the arts throughout Nevada. The agency’s programs and services are designed to support creative expression, animate communities, diversify local economies and provide lifelong learning in the arts for all Nevadans. The Nevada Arts Council is funded by the State of Nevada, the National Endowment for the Arts, and other public and private sources.