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Visual art and music converge in new Lake Tahoe exhibit

July 26, 2023 | Member Submitted

Jazz musician and visual artist collaborate on a new exhibit at the University of Nevada, Reno at Lake Tahoe with a public artist reception Aug. 1

INCLINE VILLAGE, Nev. — In a groundbreaking fusion of art and music, visual artist Emily Ward Bivens and musician Josh D. Reed have joined forces in their new exhibit, “Human, Robot, Human.” The immersive experience opens to the public on July 29 at the University of Nevada, Reno at Lake Tahoe’s Prim Library with an artists’ reception and talk on August 1 at 6:00 p.m. The exhibit, in the Tahoe Gallery, is located on the third floor of the Prim Library.

The Holman Arts and Media Center’s Gallery Visiting Artists, Reed and Bivens, have spent the summer transforming the Tahoe Gallery into an experimental collaborative research residency. Bivens from the University of Tennessee, Knoxville, and Reed, assistant professor of jazz trumpet in the School of Music at the University of Nevada, Reno, have been paired together to research, create, collaborate and perform their exploration of the visual art and music. The two met for the first time in June and together explored the natural landscapes of Lake Tahoe and the Sierra Nevada, recording sounds and capturing images to inspire and be used in the exhibit. The artists hope to inspire a sense of awe in visitors.

“The idea of awe that we come across is usually seen in these sorts of grand moments,” Bivens said. “The lake is certainly a grand moment, but what I’m interested in is what’s mostly overlooked, something that’s so amazing but that you almost missed. And that idea of almost missing something, then in my mind makes the discovery of it even more compelling.”

Reed describes the process of developing the exhibit as “mind-bending” and hopes visitors walk away having experienced something new.

“We did not go into this with a preconceived notion of what was going to happen,” Reed said. “We were trying to find new ideas, trying to experience something different. It’s really been eye-opening and mind-bending. I’m so used to playing with a band and improvising on the spot. With this project, we’re improvising over a period of two months, finding a different way to be collaborative within the arts.”

Through the exhibit, the artists explore the ideas of place and space, the lake and atmosphere, humans and animals, nature and technology and accumulation versus contemplation. The space is experimental, and this program is designed to be flexible and interdisciplinary. Both Reed and Bivens hope the exhibit inspires similar collaborations across creative disciplines.

“We go to places such as Lake Tahoe or really beautiful vistas to feel a sense of awe and wonder outside of ourselves,” Bivens said. “For me, that’s what art does. And I think that those are some of the elements that art, science and nature have in common. I really feel appreciative of the University for taking this opportunity to allow two very different aspects of the arts to come together and discover in this moment, in this place. I think it’s a gift and I think it’s a model for what should happen in the arts more generally.”

The artists’ reception on August 1 is free and open to the public. Light refreshments and snacks will be served. The gallery will be open to the public beginning July 29 in the final days of Classical Tahoe. Those attending Classical Tahoe are invited to preview the exhibit as it is installed in the Tahoe Gallery on the 3rd floor of the Prim Library.

Human, Robot, Human Artist Reception
August 1, 6:00 p.m. at the Prim Library
University of Nevada, Reno at Lake Tahoe
999 Tahoe Blvd., Incline Village, Nevada


Josh D. Reed is a trumpeter and educator in the College of Liberal Arts at the University of Nevada, Reno where he oversees the Jazz and Improvisational Music department. He holds degrees from the University of Colorado Boulder, the Eastman School of Music, and James Madison University.

As a performer, Reed has shared the stage with artists such as Dave Douglas, Brad Goode, Anat Cohen, Art Lande, Tommy Igoe, Greg Gisbert, Paquito D’Rivera, Rufus Reid and Darlene Love. He currently leads his own trio, quartet, and quintet.

As an educator, he has taught private lessons, ensembles and courses at Lagond Music School in New York, Metropolitan State University in Colorado, University of Colorado, and communities throughout the United States. Reed directed the jazz program at the University of Missouri in the spring of 2017 before directing the jazz program at Santa Clara University. He joined the faculty at the University of Nevada, Reno in the fall of 2019 as an assistant professor of jazz trumpet.

Reed recently released his first recording as a leader: “Leaping Forward” featuring Art Lande. He is also featured on Art Deco’s “Free Range,” Emily Takahashi’s “Not Spoken,” Omar Thomas’s “I Am,” Matt Smiley’s “Quartet Art” and releases from Dillon Vado’s “Never Weather” and The Tim Wendel Septet.

Emily Ward Bivens was raised in southern Louisiana. Her childhood bedroom was set apart from her family on the far side of an old house under which a large colony of armadillos would root and cavort all night. She studied biology later switching to art when she realized that there are limits to what science can explain. She has had exhibitions and performances in festivals, museums, galleries and washaterias.

Bivens is the recipient of the 2019 Ann and Steve Bailey Opportunity Grant and 2019 Tennessee Arts Commission Individual Artist Fellowship. Individual work has been shown at Skulpturens Hus, Stockholm, Sweden, Museum of Contemporary Art, Denver, CO, Temple Contemporary, Philadelphia, PA and DEMO project in Springfield, IL.  Her collaborative work with The Bridge Club has been presented at Press Street for Prospect 3+, New Orleans, LA, Museum of Contemporary Art, Santa Barbara, CA, The Texas Biennial, San Antonio, TX, Currents: The Santa Fe International New Media Festival, Santa Fe, NM and the Lawndale Art Center, Houston, TX. Bivens received her BFA from Colorado State University and her MFA from the University of Colorado in Boulder. She is a professor of Time-Based Art and Cinema Studies at the University of Tennessee, Knoxville.

– @unevadareno –

Editor’s Note: An embeddable behind-the-scenes video can be found at vimeo.com/universityofnevada/humanrobothuman. B-Roll is available by request. Additional photos can be found at nevada.box.com/v/humanrobothuman

Photo Cutline: Musician Josh D. Reed records the sounds of Lake Tahoe as visual artist Emily Ward Bivens captures images of the lake for their collaborative exhibit, “Human, Robot, Human,” opening at the University of Nevada, Reno at Lake Tahoe on July 29. (Jennifer Kent)

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