Richard Bay’s work, It's a Matter of Black and White: RATED R - Joe SAID! (2002), is on display in Squires Student Center across from the Perspective Gallery. Based on the artist's own experience in 1968, the piece examines racism in America.

“This piece is about growing older and facing the reality of what we were taught, what we witnessed, how we were told to think,” said Bay. “It is also about how we can grow and change when we say no, this is wrong!”

The piece It’s a Matter of Black and White: RATED R - Joe SAID! (2002), on display through Feb. 23, is based on true events that occurred when a black family moved into Bay’s neighborhood. The protagonist 'Joe' was Bay’s father. “Casting away the ideals of the past can be hard, changing one's mind about what is right may be even harder, but the reward is that we find our own strengths and conviction,” said Bay. “I hope people will take time to read, think, feel, and explore their own experiences when viewing, reading this work. We all know a 'Joe' from one circumstance/occasion or another [that] saying no is what will make you stronger!” The work includes an invitation for viewers to share their own stories about racism. Richard Bay is an associate professor of art and art education at Radford University, Va., and interim chair of theie department of art. Through religious iconography and secular symbolism, Bay fashions art that is dense with meaning and that reveals complex stories.

Writing in Pluck magazine, Theresa Burriss described the importance of the viewer in Bay’s art: “The observant viewer, one who takes time to note each detail and word, who fearlessly enters the piece with open mind, will be rewarded with a rich story.” She also said, “He allows viewers their own interpretations, to bring their own context to the stories that are his art, and thus create their own stories. He simply provides an artistic conduit and grants us permission to take what we need to make sense of our lives.”

“I encourage the viewer to think of my artworks in different ways and to move beyond what you already know,” said Bay. “Interacting with my images/constructions and their philosophical qualities may be uncomfortable for some individuals. Ideas that confront our emotions and our personal beliefs can challenge the viewer to form new attitudes and redefine their experiences. I want the viewer to take the initiative to construct personal meaning, and explore new possibilities of “knowing” through my works, reinterpreting the experiences presented in light of their own.”

Bay is a recipient of two Fulbright Scholarship awards and a Presidential Citation for Excellence in Education from the U.S. Department of Education. He has displayed numerous one-man and group exhibitions throughout the United States. His works are in the collections of University of California, Berkeley, Calif.; The Springfield Art Museum, Springfield, Mo.; and The Estate of Alan Ginsburg, New York; among others. Bay will return to Squires’ Perspective Gallery with a one-man exhibition in June 2008.

PHOTO CAPTION: A piece from Bay’s collection. Enamel, oil, actylic, crayon, pencil, and marker on wood/masonite/cardboard/paper, with tin and found objects.

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