The Crimson White

New exhibit captures spirit of the sea

A piece from Joni Gruber's new exhibit, "Aqua," sits on display at the Dinah Washington Cultural Arts Center. CW | Pete Pajor

Sarah Sherrill

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The exhibit, which opened Friday for the Tuscaloosa Arts Council’s monthly First Friday, features Gruber’s semi-abstract paintings that portray the ocean from different views. According to her personal website, Gruber attempts to portray the sea’s qualities of movement, reflectivity and ever-changing coloration through 
her paintings.

Gruber, who received a BFA in painting and drawing from Ohio State University, has lived in Tuscaloosa since 1995. She has been practicing and experimenting with different art techniques for more than forty years. For the past 20 years, Gruber has 
traveled across the Gulf Coast. She said Florida’s Emerald Coast along the Gulf of Mexico provided inspiration for many of the pieces in “Aqua.”

In addition to her representations of the ocean, Gruber’s exhibit includes work from her Black Water series that represents the 2010 BP Deepwater Horizon oil spill. The paintings represent the toxic disaster in the Gulf, an event which Gruber said has had a profound impact on both her and her art.

Lily Daly, a senior majoring in English, recently visited “Aqua” and said she was impressed by the 
multi-faceted nature of her pieces.

“I love that her art, so textured and representative of nature and man’s impact, is vulnerable in a way because there are so many variables to consider, some that are out of her 
control,” she said.

To create her pieces, Gruber uses the Encaustic, or hot wax painting, technique. During the process, colored pigments are added to heated beeswax and then applied to the surface. Gruber said she enjoys Encaustic painting because it allows her to work in the moment in a very physical way.

“I’ll probably be doing this until I die,” Gruber said.

Gruber’s paintings, mixed media and photography reside in private collections across the United States and Europe. Many of her pieces can also be seen as part of the Encaustic Art Institute’s permanent collection. “Aqua” is currently on display through Sept. 26 in the Dinah Washington Cultural Arts Center at 620 
Greensboro Avenue.

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