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Reading, Pa. talent shines at Kutztown University Art Reception

Feb. 25, 2013

Artwork by Theron CookKUTZTOWN, PA - KU's Rohrbach Library hummed with energy. Audience members were enthralled as they listened to David Nazario read the introduction from his forthcoming book, "I'm David, Christianity is Goliath: Why Love is More Important than Religion." His selection conceptualized love as a universal force connecting humanity and suggested that all people are divine when celebrating and rejoicing in life.

Nazario's recitation kicked off an art reception on Feb. 12 for Theron Cook, who was recently named artist of the year in Reading, Pa. Cook, a rapidly rising star, was selected to exhibit his art for the library's Black History Month exhibition.

Guests at the reception included Ed Terrell, art director and curator for the African-American Coalition of Reading, who has organized Black History Month exhibits at Rohrbach since 2009.

Terrell beamed with pride as he discussed the work of his young protégé.

"Over the past seven years I have watched Theron grow as an artist," he said. "His artwork is quite striking and every picture tells a story."

Cook selected art for the exhibit, entitled "Love," to appeal to a universal audience.

"The message that I incorporate in my art is that all people are connected through love," he said. "Love is the answer to all of our questions."

Cook was also impressed with the atmosphere at KU.

"It's a big university, but it is also very welcoming," he said. "It seems like the students are especially involved here. I am connected to KU by my colleagues, David (Nazario), who is working on his MPA degree here, and (KU grad) Manuel Guzman."

Friends and family are important influences for Cook. His mother, Catherine Cook, was at her son's side for the reception, clearly elated at the interest generated by his art.

"It's very inspiring when your child is out there, creating art that speaks to and encourages everyone, young and old alike," she said.

The group of creative artists from Reading who attended Cook's art reception form a growing, learning, gifted community of local talent. The benefits of their collaboration are apparent - Cook was moved by muse Tracy Olivieri to create a painting that incorporated themes from her poem, "The Ceiling."

My poem represents thoughts, concerns and desires that keep us awake in the middle of the night," Olivieri said. "I shared the poem with Cook and he wanted to capture it in a painting. Looking back on that moment, I think the universe spoke to both of us. It was an incredible moment of synchronicity."

Nazario, author, workshop facilitator and Cook's partner at MUTE (Music Under the Edge) magazine, is also inspired by other local talents, collaborating with his brother, Gilbert Nazario, and friend Mariano Rolon on his book.

"I write and they do a lot of the research," he said. "A lot of the discussions about life we have together made it into the book. They are my inspiration."

It is clear that this community of artists will continue to produce work that fascinates everyone they encounter.

Cook's art will be on display in Rohrbach library until the end of the month and Nazario's book will be released this summer.