Introducing Neal Rock, a New Assistant Professor and Painter
The role of art to provide context, inspiration, and relief has never been more critical, which makes new UVA painting instructor Neal Rock's arrival on Grounds feel right on time. "Painting can be a place where people can discover a sense of agency that all too often gets co-opted and restrictively scripted through the cultures we live in," said Rock, who holds a BFA in painting from the University of Gloucestershire, UK; an MFA from Central Saint Martins School of Art & Design, London, and a practice-based Ph.D. in painting from London’s Royal College of Art. "The capacity and limits of the human are challenged today in a myriad of ways," Rock said, "from the environment and politics to technology and interactive media. I'm inspired by the continued potential for visual art to respond to these challenges – to create new or fuller capacities of being human that otherwise would remain alien or other."Hehas fashioned an extraordinary career out of responding to these challenges, embracing interdisciplinary approaches to painting informed by histories of prosthetics, abstraction, embodiment, and post-Humanism.
Neal Rock has exhibited extensively across Europe and the United States since the early 2000s, and his work has been featured in commercial solo exhibitions in London, Amsterdam, Paris, New York, and Los Angeles. Rock's current projects include research into the motion-capture photography of Lillian and Frank Gilbreth, and he is currently working on a book based on his dissertation, which explores connections between contemporary and historical painting and prosthetics. His wide-ranging interests and talents are a good fit for the McIntire Department of Art's inclusive approach, Rock said. "I bring an interdisciplinary ethos to painting and painting histories, which contributes to the interdisciplinary outlook in other areas of my department, such as New Media, Film, and our new Foundations courses." The timing of his arrival is fortuitous in another important way. "My position is influenced by Continental traditions of thought," Rock said, "particularly as seen through lenses of post-colonialism, feminism, and critical race theory.
At a time when UVA is being asked once more to confront its historical foundations, through my Welsh background I bring a consciousness of class and labor movements distinct from, yet with parallels to the socio-political history of the United States.”