Visual arts

Local Artist’s PA-Focused Paintings Chosen for Display at US Embassy in Eastern Europe

Artist Reina “R76” Wooden and her collection of paintings, “The Keystones 1787”

When Reina “R76” Wooden first received an email asking for her artwork for an exhibition in Eastern Europe, she thought it was a scam.

A curator from the US State Department’s “Art in Embassies” program was hoping to acquire a series of her paintings for display in the residence of the US Ambassador to Moldova.

It was unexpected, and Wooden didn’t know what to make of it. But after some research and discussions with the curator, she decided to take the opportunity.

“I don’t know how they found me,” she said. “I still feel like I’m off the radar. I still operate like an underground artist. To be included was a huge honor.

It turns out that the American ambassador to Moldova is from Pennsylvania. While researching PA artists, he found the work of Wooden and connected to his many keystone-themed pieces.

The federal “Art in Embassies” program collects exhibits to be displayed in the residences of U.S. ambassadors during their tenure, which is typically about three years. The organization’s goal is to encourage “intercultural dialogue and understanding through the visual arts,” according to their website. They have exhibitions in over 189 countries and create around 60 exhibitions a year.

Wooden’s collection of three paintings, “The Keystones 1787”, will become one such exhibit at Ambassador Kent Logsdon’s residence in Chișinău, the capital of Moldova.

“It finally makes me feel like I can stay true to my identity as an underground artist and still be seen,” she said. “Every year there have been a lot of challenges. But if I had given up, this opportunity might not have happened.

Wooden said her art draws on themes of independence and the pursuit of freedom, things she considers especially important to Pennsylvanians.

With the current war in Ukraine, neighboring country of Moldova, Wooden believes that his art, centered on the idea of ​​freedom, will have even more importance.

“The keystone symbol has a lot of meaning,” she said.

Representatives of the “Art in Embassies” program will collect Wooden’s art in the coming weeks to transport it to Moldova, where it will be displayed for several years.

“It’s exciting,” she said. “It’s a turning point for me.”

For more information on the Art in Embassies program, visit their website.

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