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Saturday, September 18th
6:00 - 8:00pm
Whittemore House - The Galleries

NO FILTER: A Day At Whittemore
Val Sivilli + Kathleen Thompson

In celebration of Whittemore’s 5-year anniversary, Val Sivilli and Kathleen Thompson are creating a collaborative photographic exhibit that will explore the preserve’s plentiful flora and fauna, trees and skies across the span of one day.


Whatever the weather, Val and Kathleen will choose a path and wander the trails, cameras at the ready and minds wide open. A selection of the images captured during this magical day will be presented as taken – no filters, no manipulation, no editing – in an attempt to retain and communicate the purity of each moment.


They hope it will inspire viewers to seek out their own “No Filter” experiences in any environment by stopping, taking a breath and observing their surroundings with fresh eyes. Closely examine the bark of a tree, lay back on the grass to watch the clouds, and feel your primordial brain reconnecting with the wonder of Nature.

Val Sivilli

Val Sivilli is an artist and renaissance woman. She is a painter, printmaker, writer, musician and activist who serves as a liaison between artists and their community. Originally, from Brooklyn, Long Island and then Brooklyn again, Val now lives in Hunterdon County, NJ. She did her graduate work at Mason Gross School of the Arts, Rutgers, her undergrad at SUNY Purchase and Alfred University.  She is currently an Adjunct Professor of Fine Art at both Bucks and Raritan Valley Community Colleges. Civilian Art has been her identity as a T-shirt designer since 1996.  In 2016, Val worked to create The Hunterdon Art Tour, a self-guided tour of artist studios throughout Hunterdon County, NJ. Quite often, she can be found playing her accordion somewhere.


Her work reveals the untamed feral nature living just beneath the surface of the human animal. She uses narrative elements and the power of color and composition to express deep truths about humanity’s relationship to the planet, other living beings and ultimately, to each other. "


Val started to take pictures of trees at human height while taking photos for a photo course. Each tree is not unlike a human being, an individual. Confrontation is a common theme in Val's work. Each tree is an individual perceived differently at different times of the day in varying lighting conditions.  Each has a different color and texture of skin - which also changes depending on the whether and the  available light.  They are all different sizes, different ages, they vary in their health. 

Kathleen Thompson

A lifelong Hunterdon County resident, I see, hear and taste beauty in the quotidian. I am a writer and printmaker, currently creating a photographic series exploring the ever-changing sky under which we all exist.


Whilst it seems that the sky is limitless and omnipresent, embracing and protecting Earth, it may not always be so. I wonder how many of us take the time to lift our gaze upward to observe the structure and colors of the sky and clouds. Through this work, I wish to preserve the sky as it is now for those who may experience a very different view in the future. 


As I frame each sky shot, I observe the telephone poles, electrical wires and buildings that block or interfere with a truly unobstructed view. As I prepare to snap the image, I breathe in deeply, hold it for a second, take the shot, then exhale. Each composition challenges the surrounding constraints, and the resulting image is free from these man made structures just outside the frame.


This work is being created using only an iPhone 7, and the images are never manipulated or edited. The very technology being used is one that has become synonymous with people constantly looking down to check an Instagram feed, email, phone call, or, ironically enough, weather conditions. This work is taking that technology and encouraging the viewer to stop, stand in place, inhale and turn one’s face to the sky. 


I offer this work to all who have been separated from Nature during this past year – and continuing time – of social distancing, quarantining and isolation. Art and wonder always exist, even in chaotic and challenging times. One need take only a moment to witness their brilliance. 

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