Anyone who's been around the Northwest Indiana arts scene for any length of time likely has seen the work of Miller-based artist Corey Hagelberg.
His black-and-white prints, woodcuts and sculptures that often address environmental degradation in Northwest Indiana have appeared in venues like the Marshall Gardner Center for the Arts, the Lubeznik Center for the Arts, the White Ripple Gallery, the Hammond Arts Center, the Porter County Museum and the Miller Bakery Cafe.
Now he's landed his first solo show at the Brauer Museum of Art at Valparaiso University. Hagelberg's "No Beauty in This" will be displayed from May 30 through Aug. 4 at the art museum at 1709 Chapel Drive in Valparaiso.
"The show at the Brauer combines woodcuts and sculptures together that go back to 2005 and were created as recently as last year," Hagelberg said. "I really want to create an environment that causes the viewer to think about their own ideals and how art has the ability to create tremendous beauty to cover up ills in our world, to distract from problems and solutions. While art might be beautiful, it can be a distraction."
The sculptures were made with recycled material Hagelberg has gathered in his personal life.
"Every object we create will someday become garbage," Hagelberg said. "It's a lot of items from my everyday life that had no usable purpose anymore so I threw it in the garbage because I didn't know what to do with it. In a way, my sculptures are all self-portraits, confession: I put my garbage out in the world."
Hagelberg draws from a wide variety of inspirations, including the Japanese woodcut artist Matsubara Naoka, ancient Egypt, architectural flourishes like flying buttresses, and the Oriental Institute at the University of Chicago.
"My style comes from a lot of places," he said. "I'm a student of art history."
He draws inspiration from the milieu he grew up in, from how heavy industry scarred the Calumet Region's natural landscape.
"When I look at the body of my work, it relates my life in Northwest Indiana," he said. "There are incredibly juxtapositions of tremendous industry next to environmental areas like the Indiana Dunes National Park. For quite a long time, my work has taken that approach, to highlight that juxtaposition."
Hagelberg graduated from Ball State University with a bachelor's degree in sculpture and later earned a master's. He found that as an adult in the real world it was more practically feasible to produce woodcuts, especially when traveling around and installing playground equipment.
He gravitated toward black-and-white prints because they are simple, quickly legible from a distance and a democratic art form where he can convey a message both visually and conceptually. The "No Beauty in This" exhibit will feature centerpieces like "This is Not a Peace Pipe," a sprawling book about how the Calumet River wends through the Region and ends up disappearing into a pipeline at the U.S. Steel Gary Works steel mill.
"As a young kid, we would follow the river back on our canoes," he said. "We found out you can't go any farther. It's a very strange place with piles of coke on one side, giant piles of furnace bricks, and large dunes on the other side."
An artist's talk at the exhibition is scheduled for 7 p.m. on July 10.
For more information, call 219.464.5365 or visit https://www.valpo.edu/brauer-museum-of-art/exhibitions/.