Drive to work
Rossitza Todorova and Kelly Bridegum
The commute to work has become an inevitable part of American life. Although the distance remains the same, the long stretch of everyday road contains millions of variables, including precarious weather, car accidents and split-second glimpses of wildlife. Two Nevada artists, Rossitza Todorova and Kelly Bridegum, have collaborated on an exhibit, From: To: A Study of Space and Commuting at the McKinley Arts and Culture Center that explores the mutability of their daily trek through Washoe Valley.
Bridegum works in Reno and lives in Carson City, and Todorova makes the opposite commute, so it’s only natural that the artists would show their work on either side of the room, directly facing each other.
“They’re kind of like in conversation with each other because they are very different perspectives and understandings of the same thing,” says Bridegum.
Todorova elaborates, calling their work a “more rounded view of two people seeing the same thing, but having a very different experience. … You don’t really know where you end or where the commute starts.”
Bridegum is a photographer with a background in sculpture, and Todorova describes her work as watermedia. While their chosen forms of expressing the daily commute differ, they both celebrate the contrasting beauty of manmade technology in nature. “I don’t know if I’ve ever talked about it this way,” Todorova muses, “but it’s the element behind the element, like engineering or pipe systems … someone thought of it, made it—man and nature. It can be empowering, inspiring.”
Bridegum nods in agreement. “I think it’s just so interesting. So many people get uptight about the environment and man’s influence on the environment. … It doesn’t have to be something that you see as a blemish on your aesthetic canvas.”
The artists met when they both working at the Nevada Museum of Art. A little over a year ago, Todorova approached Bridegum about an exhibit based on commuting. By chance or sheer synchronicity, Bridegum had just completed a piece on that same theme. They put a proposal together for the city and applied for the space to show their artwork.
“I really liked our title, From: To: … It feels that way a lot of the time,” says Todorova. “Not only are we studying it visually through this exhibit, we’re going through it every day.”
Bridegum and Todorova are graduates of the University of Nevada, Reno, earning their respective bachelor’s degrees in studio art and fine art. The artists are exuberant about art in Northern Nevada.
“I think that there are a lot of opportunities here, more than people think,” says Todorova. “There’s the ability to apply for shows. There’s grant funding. I work for the [Nevada] Arts Council, and we give so many grants to individual artists, which is very different than in any other state.”
They believe that Nevada is a good place for artists. “It’s a very close-knit arts community in terms of organizations working together, spaces being shared,” says Bridegum.
From: To: effectively captures the collective artistic consciousness of Northern Nevada through two interpretations of a well-known stretch of road. “It’s more like an everyday road trip rather than a commute. The visuals are different, too. When you commute in heavy traffic, and there’s nature, you have time to study sections or see certain things.” Todorova points to the ceiling with one hand and clutches an imaginary steering wheel with the other. “There’s an eagle!”