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Observing Observation: The Role of Environment in Art Making

Whether it is a natural environment or an urban/built environment, the process of artists leaving their traditional studio and entering the “real” world to create has a long and ongoing history. What role does the artist play as observer and chronicler? This discussion will unpack these ideas and panelists will include both artists in the current exhibition Ripple Effect and panelists in other fields. Click here to register for this free event, which will take place on Saturday, October 22, from 2-3:30 PM.



Eileen Ferara is a multidisciplinary visual artist whose work is focused on the human relationship to the environment. Drawing inspiration from the natural world, she uses printmaking, painting, paper making, drawing, and sculpture to create art based on observation, research, and imagination.

Valeri Larko is best known for her densely painted landscapes of the urban fringe, all of which she paints on location. She is attracted to the decaying and abandoned buildings, aging infrastructure, industrial sites, and urban waterways that populated the outskirts of America’s urban centers and the stories these places tell about contemporary life and culture. Larko started painting urban landscapes on site when she moved to Jersey City shortly after finishing art school. In 2004 she moved to New York, where she continues to explore and paint the ordinary and overlooked environs of the outer boroughs of New York City. A large painting can take the artist 2-3 months to complete on site. Due to the changing light, Larko works on one painting in the morning and a second one in the afternoon. In winter she paints small canvases from the relative comfort of her car. Larko has been painting in this manner for over three decades.

Duane Lutsko has an MFA in Painting from Brooklyn College and a BA in Fine Arts from UCLA. Lutsko has received numerous grants and fellowships including: a Fulbright Fellowship to Italy, a Residency Grant at the Vermont Studio Center, Maryland State Arts Council Individual Artist Grant, and a Prince Georges County Council Individual Artists Grant. Lutsko has taught with the Open Studies Department of the Maryland Institute College of Art in Baltimore, MD, since 2001. Duane was Art Department Chair for 11 years during his 25 years teaching in Baltimore County Public Schools. Duane currently lives in northern New Jersey with his wife Amy. He is a certified FAA pilot and is dedicated to the agency of Gestalt phenomena, psychology, neuroscience, and all things Italian.


Visual Arts Center of New Jersey
68 Elm Street
Summit, NJ 07901 United States
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