Richard J. Bay, art education professor at Radford University, is bringing his new vision as an artist to Virginia Tech. Bay aims to push the envelope and make people ponder their beliefs and worldviews. His latest exhibition, "Mom said, 'HAVE FAITH!"' will be held in the Virginia Tech Perspective Gallery from June 6 to July 23. Through his art, Bay discusses and transcends concepts of faith and separates the connotations that are involved with religion. The opening night showing will begin at 6 p.m. Admission is free to the public.
Kirsten Gravely and Erik Rollwage: Is this your first exhibit? If not, how many have you done so far?
Richard Bay: Oh God, no. I've got a resume of shows longer than both my arms. I'm in a couple of university collections, museums, and such. I've been doing this for 30 to 35 years. I average probably two major shows a year. People see my stuff and get intrigued, and I don't think people realize what it takes to do a show. I don't like to show the same work, other artists like to do that. I always try to push my ideas and myself and maybe that's why I get a lot of requests.
KG/ER: Where did you come up with the title, "Mom said, 'HAVE FAITH!"', and what does it mean?
RB: I grew up in a very tumultuous household, with an abusive father, and my mom always said, "have faith!" And that's what keeps me going, to know that things are going to get better. I like to stand and listen to people talk about my stuff, not telling them that I am the artist. There was a man standing in front of some of my work. "I know exactly what he's talking about ... that's my father, too," he said. That's what it is all about. It's about saying that I give permission for you to admit that maybe you worked through that kind of situation too. You're human.
KG/ER: Can you summarize what this exhibit confronts or talks about? Faith has taken on new meanings to different people and it can be difficult to find a single meaning to put into art.
RB: I don't know if you have ever had this happen to you, but if you go to a rest stop bathroom, many times near the toilet paper you will see scriptures from the Bible near it in the stall. That's my point, look where we leave this idea of faith ... in the toilet! I think this collection is the start of a bigger series. Mom lived through her faith and gave me a feeling for its power. I embrace all paths to God. I admire those who profess their faith on signs along the roads I travel. I honor them using their words - spelled correctly and incorrectly - and the truths they profess. There is no faith without hope ... Hope is my ability to change and grow. Hope is sometimes found in past journeys and the lessons learned on those occasions. Faith and hope bring reality to bear. Reality is not being able to close your eyes and wondering what does this all mean? Reality is found in those simple occasions with profound consequences. Reality is what I have learned from my life and what others force upon me! The reality of my faith is again grounded in simple words from my mom, 'Tell what's in your heart, live that and you will find your peace!"
KG/ER: What is your creation process?
RB: I just make things. I really did do 17 pieces in three weeks. One is almost 10' by 5'. I spoke to a group last week and said sometimes I hate what I am and all that swirls and clutters my mind. I hate trying to bring to being what most people ignore. I hate not being able to rest or have moments of quiet. Being a visual artist is both a curse and blessing. We try to give answers to what others sometimes ignore and find ourselves then defending what others think we have said without asking us first what is meant.
Context is everything, we each bring our own to an experience and it is in that context we have (or) find our meaning. Remember, what you think you know I am saying is only your context of knowing. You see it is a curse, that of being misunderstood.