Two School of Art professors featured in Akron Art Museum exhibit

Holly Disch

The NEO Geo exhibition, organized by the Akron Art Museum, is currently showcasing pieces by artists from the surrounding region until April 24, including work from two Kent State professors.

Since November 2015, the artist’s geometric abstractions in shapes, lines and colors have been shown in the Karl and Bertl Arnstein Galleries in the Akron Art Museum. Mediums included in the exhibition are painting, printmaking, drawing, installation, sculpture, fiber and photography.

According the NEO Geo page on the Akron Art Museum’s website, artists have been using pre-determined systems to create art since the 1960s and ‘70s. The regional artists in the exhibition use similar techniques to show hard-edged geometric forms.

Two of the artists from the region are Kent State’s own Janice Lessman-Moss and Gianna Commito. Lessman-Moss and Commito are both professors in the School of Art at Kent State.

Commito has six paintings that are casein and marble dust ground on a panel. According to her statement hanging on the museum’s wall, her work is a slow and deliberate process. It is not her intention to communicate a specific idea, but to think about interests and experiences of her studio practice.

Lessman-Moss has three large weavings in the exhibition. The weavings are digitally designed, industrially woven jacquard pieces with a handmade felt surround.

“I design the weavings, then I send the files down to (a) mill in North Carolina and they weave them for me,” Lessman-Moss said.

When she gets the pieces back she blocks them, then figures out the colors for the handmade felt surround.

Janice Driesbach, chief curator at the Akron Art Museum, wanted to get to know the artists in the area and reached out to Lessman-Moss to be in the exhibition.

“She knew what my work was kind of like, but then when the NEO Geo show was determined, her and Theresa Bembnister (an associate curator of the exhibition) tried to find artists that fit the theme,” Lessman-Moss said.

According to Bembnister, there is a commitment to exhibiting and collecting work from artists in this region.

“Geometric abstraction, particularly op art, has been really important to the history of this region. There are still a lot of artists working in that style, making really great work and NEO Geo helps get their work out there,” Bembnister said.

The show features artists from different backgrounds and experience in their art medium. Those aspects make it a show that can appeal to a large audience.

“They were able to capture the magic of NEO Geo with artists who are approaching it from very different ways and different stages in our careers,” Lessman-Moss said. “it makes for a rich show.” 

Within the Northeast Ohio region, there are not many places to show contemporary art. Lessman-Moss was excited for the opportunity to make new pieces as well as show a piece that has not yet been exhibited in this area.

Lessman-Moss created a range of pieces so Bembnister could select what went into the gallery. She created five new, digitally-made designs with a close connection, but varied colors.

For more information, visit the museum’s website.

Holly Disch is the visual arts reporter for The Kent Stater, contact her at [email protected]