Junior Art Majors’ Exhibition April 5 – May 8, 2019 Boland Hall Gallery
Reception: April 5, 4-6pm
Andres Deschapelles is inspired by the geometric forms found in abstract art. In this exhibit, he combines his passion for animals with vibrant colors and marked shapes. The animals portrayed
are discernable but have a hint of abstraction.
Deschapelles would like to show viewers the beautiful creatures that are in danger of losing their habitats because of human encroachment. Habitat destruction is one of the leading causes of species endangerment. “My dream is to start a reptile and wild animal sanctuary to save these magnificent creatures who are dying off at a tremendous speed due to human behavior,” says Deschapelles.
Anissa Wilson has been fascinated with the ocean and its plentiful life forms since childhood. Her aim is to recreate the beauty that exists within it, not only for herself but for those unfamiliar with ocean life. “Our oceans and beaches are less thought of and are getting neglected. Coral reefs are dying, our waters are polluted, and marine life is suffering in the place they call home,” says Wilson. Society must address pollution issues so that the allure of the sea remains intact. “I want to continue to create ocean related drawings to remind people of the beauty that once flourished without threat from humanity,” reflects Wilson.
March 5-29, 2019
Coffee Hour: Tuesday, March 20, 8-9am
Text by Gallery Exhibition Research Assistant: Rowan Sullivan ‘21
This exhibit showcases student artwork from the Mixed Media Sculpture, Mosaics, and 3D Art classes instructed by Jill Allen and Krista Svalbonas. Using materials such as wood, clay, wire, and plaster the students create unique artworks that express their understanding of space, form, and conceptual development.
The 3D Art class focused on the element of movement in their pieces and the different ways to express it through their own process of artistic innovation. One of the concepts that the class explored was the idea of a “dwelling.” Using foam core and paint the students created 3D models of what their perception of a dwelling is. The 3D Art class also worked on automata box sculptures (wood box structure with movable machine parts and assemblage top piece) that apply found or fabricated objects in an unusual context. Each automata box has a moving component that makes the sculpture come alive in a dynamic fashion that draws attention to a certain area of the artwork. The Mosaics Class created artworks that exemplified the impact of the 2018-2019 government shutdown on our National Parks as well as abstract representations of geographic locations from an aerial view.
“The pieces for this exhibit were chosen to show the many unique ways that artists interpret a similar theme. While parameters might be given with regards to material or size, each person’s individual experiences and ways of seeing the world affect their concept and execution of their work.” – Jill Allen
The Mixed Media Sculpture class created cast plaster pieces that took a form of social awareness on issues such as: “Fake News,” sexual assault, alcohol abuse, and the stigma of learning disabilities.
“In my Mixed Media Sculpture course I had students focus on casting techniques. Within the confines of this technical process, I asked them to think deeply about themselves and how Art can bring attention to the important social issues of our time.” – Krista Svalbonas
Mosaics The mosaic pieces displayed are inspired by two concepts: the impact that the government shutdown had on National Parks and the abstract aerial view of specific geographic locations. The various animals depicted in the tiles are uniquely crafted through the use of mosaic tile and color that create a cohesive composition of the subject. The tiles representing aerial views of various geographic locations are abstract and emphasize the quality of their surface where mountain ranges and oceans are made visible through the texture and color of the tiles chosen.
Dylan created a series of cast plaster mouths to represent the social problem of sexual abuse on college campuses, and how victims are often silenced from speaking out by the fear of judgement or isolation from others.
“This is a visual statistic about sexual assault on college campuses. Unfortunately, though not unsurprisingly, more than 90% of sexual assault victims will not speak out about their experiences due to shame or fear. The broken mouth in the middle represents the one who has the courage to speak out against their assaulter. The goal of this piece was to create a simple yet powerful portrayal of how that one person feels breaking the silence.”
Ali created a series of cast plaster of lightbulbs to represent the stigma of learning disabilities in society today.
“There are 10 light bulbs because 1 in 10 children have a mental disability. So they all look the same except the top one, with a rusted bottom and not as white top. This signifies that mental disabilities aren’t talked about and they lump children together but you can still slightly see the difference.” -Ali Sisbarro
William displayed the controversial topic of “Fake News” in his installation of several cast plaster models of microphones labeled with ten news stations such as, Fox News, CNN, and NPR. The circular display of the microphones alludes to the endless cycle of “fake news” we are exposed to everyday.
“When putting prior political opinions aside…In today’s world with various social media platforms consisting of algorithms that adhere to what the user wants to see or hear, it is extremely important for people to branch out and get out of their shell to follow different news sources that they don’t necessarily agree with. By doing so, one is able to gather a broader perspective of how different people think or believe which enables a more unbiased opinion”
Claire created cast plasters of beer bottles painted in neutral tones of grey and beige to represent the social problem of drunk driving among youths in today’s society. She also incorporates a photo image of her installation of the bottles at the foot of a car tire bringing her art into contact with the physical world and emphasizing the reality and impact of drunk driving.
“For my art piece, I sculpted several beer bottles to represent fatalities DUI’s can result in, and how dangerous it is to “have a couple drinks” at a party and getting behind the wheel after. The beer bottles are dark, and can blend into the color of a road or a highway to represent the darkness of driving under the influence, and it also represents how it can be “hidden” from our eyes. One individual may have a couple alcoholic beverages, and believes that he or she is able to get behind the wheel to drive home since he or she only had two drinks. Unfortunately, every situation is different, and in that circumstance, maybe he or she did not eat enough that day, and was not okay to get behind the wheel, causing a fatal car accident. According to the CDC, every day there are 29 motor vehicle deaths in the United States, due to a driver driving under the influence of alcohol. Take an Uber or call a friend for a ride, because it is not worth risking a life to drive.” -Shanna DiCarlo
Rozana Almaddah represented her idea of a dwelling in the form of a model replica of her home. On a large and detailed scale, Rozana’s piece stands out for it’s attention to detail of architecture in the hexagonal bay with a conical segmented roof, wrap around porch, and multi-dimensional elements of the house.
Ian Asaph represented his concept of a dwelling through the inspiration from the film cover of the 1927 movie “Metropolis.” Crafted from foam core and yellow and black paint, the model stands out for it’s expressive brushwork and sharp contours.
Automata Box Sculptures
The 3D Art class also worked on automata box sculptures (wood box structure with movable machine parts and assemblage top piece) that apply found or fabricated objects in an unusual context. Each automata box has a moving component that makes the sculpture come alive in a dynamic fashion that draws attention to a certain area of the artwork.
Automata Box: Wire Birds/Blue Landscape
Gianna Hoffman’s sculpture “Wire Birds/Blue Landscape” uses wire shaped into the form of birds to create the moving component of the box. The naturalistic blue landscape painted in the background contrasts with the wire birds which calls attention to the movement and spatial organization of the sculpture.
“My piece was inspired by nature and simplicity. I really enjoyed using different materials to create a feeling of calm that a person would experience in nature.”
– Gianna Hoffman
Automata Box: Birds/Garden
Madison Scuderi’s sculpture, “Birds/Garden” is complete with a wooden bird box, plastic grass, and figures of a bird and flowers as well as butterflies. In Madison’s sculpture the bird and flower move up and down making the nature in her automata box come alive in the setting of a garden. The openness of her box with no back brings an element of open space in an outdoor garden .
Automata Box: Garlic/Found Objects
Hannah Kiley’s sculpture, “Garlic/Found Objects” resembles that of cupboard shelf crowded with miscellaneous items. The tape measure coils and the thyme herb swivels when the crank is turned, giving the sculpture’s intriguing randomness an eerie mystery to the found objects it contains.
February 4 – 28, 2019
Coffee Hour: February 5, 8-9am
Victoria Ring ’19
Students experiment with digital photography in unconventional ways; taking the concepts of color, line, form, texture and space to construct images. These alterations to the photos allow the artist to convey their vision. Focusing on principles of composition, the exhibit is a visual storytelling in photography.
This exhibit provides attention grabbing images that undermine the questions of social justice that are discussed in our nation today. From prejudice to environmental impact, these images will allow other students to continue the discussions that affect change in our society and on our campus. Photographer Roa Alshaer shared her feelings on the assignment saying it, “challenged me to address a sensitive topic that can be overlooked or neglected because we experience it in our daily interactions. I was inspired to address social prejudice that most of us get subjected to because of our ethnicity, religious believes, gender, sexual orientation or appearance.” Followed by the work of photographer peer Dylan Eddinger who was steered in the direction of ecological concern. He says, “I decided to take fine art food photography pictures of seafood dishes to bring attention to the issue, but instead the seafood is being replaced by the Ocean trash.” Using these creative ways to discuss the issues that presently impact our world. Each of the stories these photographers are sharing provide a provocative discussion to follow.
-Meghan Sack ‘19
Gallery Exhibition Research Assistant
Roa Alshaer ‘18 Photographer Roa Alshaer took on the topic of prejudice as it runs through the daily interactions of people in our society with an emphasis on the social stereotypes that are perpetuated through ethnicity, religion, gender, and race. In her own words, “The images almost look like mugshots as I wanted the shots to looks serious but I also wanted to empower the individual and show that these labels, although hurtful, do not have to affect us or change who we are as people”. Her work includes fierce images of her subjects showing their powerful reaction to the external judgement that inflicts its pain into people’s lives daily. Alshaer believes in change and simply says, “I want to bring awareness and encourage people to treat one another with kindness and not to mindlessly pass social prejudices.”
Dylan Eddinger ‘19 Entertainment Marketing Major
Photographer Dylan Eddinger tackles the overwhelming waste issue that our planet is facing today. Using the concept of fine art food photography, he features popular seafood dishes replacing the food with trash found in our oceans. His work demonstrates the increasing issue of marine ecosystems in jeopardy due to waste created by humans. Turning the tables on the topic, quite literally, he serves up the plastic and debris that is dumped into oceans each day with his photographic meals. As he says, “If nothing is done to stop trash from going into our oceans or to help clean up our oceans, there is supposed to be more trash than fish by 2050. It is believed that there are approximately 5.25 trillion tons of plastic debris in the ocean already; plastic bags, straws, cigarette butts, food wrappers, plastic bottles, and aluminum cans being some of the biggest problems”. Eddinger draws alarming attention to the mistreatment of our environment using the very benefits we gain from the sea– food.
December 10, 2018 – January 25, 2019
Coffee hour: Tuesday, January 22, 8-9am
This exhibition features film-based black and white photography as an expressive and creative medium. Film based photography presents many unique challenges, but it is also very rewarding. A photographer must slow down and consider composition and technique to capture just the right image. Once the photographer captures these images, he or she must use special equipment and chemicals to develop the film. This requires great effort and attention to detail.
This collection of work was created by beginner photography students under the direction of Julia Staples and Dustin Ream. In this course, students learn how to use a film camera, how to develop negatives, and how factors like shutter speed or aperture, can affect the outcome of an image. Students selected this work from assignments throughout the semester, which had to do with things like the effects of light on a photograph, the many perspectives one can take as a photographer or experimenting with distance. This exhibition features a variety of approaches to these assignments, as well as students’ own personal expression and artistic vision.
~ Christine Torrey ‘20
Gallery Exhibition Research Assistant
Aedan Accardi ‘19 Marketing major, Art minor
Photographer Aedan Accardi chose a group of four compelling photographs, featuring a cemetery. With this series, Aedan wanted to capture the beauty of cemeteries by blending together both man-made and natural objects. In these photographs, Aedan uses light and shadow to portray a somber mood. Two of these works feature crosses, both up close and from a distance. This series of photographs is reflective and mournful, and the perspective and framing of the two photographs shows a skillful execution of photography techniques.
Maria Jimenez ‘19
Accounting major, Business Analytics minor
This group of photographs, taken by Maria Jimenez, features a variety of subjects and perspectives. Maria’s photographs are full of bright light and strong contrast. Her use of positive and negative space gives the viewer a clear understanding of the form and subject matter. Maria uses the compositional Rule of Thirds to create visually interesting and thought-provoking images. In two of these photos, Maria captures man-made structures from a distance, highlighting their magnitude. She also photographs with little contrast more natural scenes of the city. These images hold a certain softness and tranquility. With this series of photographs, Maria portrays different viewpoints, and sheds new light on the world in which we live.
November 5 – 30, 2018 Service Project: Shai Hills, Ghana, Africa Rachel Ledbetter, ’19
Rachel Ledbetter (IHS major and Art minor) volunteered at City of Refuge Ministries (CORM), a non-profit organization based in Ghana in May 2018. The team at CORM is passionate about rescuing children from slavery and providing them with a safe and fulfilling childhood. Ledbetter’s research focuses on the injustices perpetrated on individuals in Africa. Through photography and video, this exhibit documents the people from CORM and their stories.
Lake Volta is a man-made lake in Ghana built in the 1960s to create business opportunities for fishermen. This lake has an abundance of expensive fish to sell and profit from. Fishermen buy children from vulnerable mothers, promising care and education. In reality, the children are not educated, barely fed and forced into dangerous child labor. Many children grow up to be slave masters themselves.
In 2000, The Trafficking Victims Protection Act was passed officially prohibiting all forced labor, involuntary servitude, and sex trafficking by force, fraud, or coercion. As a result, rescuing children from Lake Volta became a legal process, but unfortunately human trafficking still continues today. Many fishermen do not realize that what they are doing is illegal. The government will carry out raids on the lake and rescue hundreds of children at a time. CORM partners with community leaders and International Justice Mission to rescue enslaved children.
The key to end human trafficking in the Lake Volta region is to begin with the mothers. The women often lack the necessary skills and income to adequately provide for multiple children forcing them to sell their children in the hopes that they will have a better life. CORM fosters women; teaching them sewing, literacy, cooking, and basic skills all while their children are attending school. After a few years, the women will graduate from this sponsorship program with proper skills, a sewing machine, a small stipend, and thus a business to sustain themselves and their children.
CORM fosters, feeds, and provides Christian based education for children rescued from slavery. There are approximately 70 children currently living in Children’s Village. Many of them will begin their education at age 13 since they spent their early childhood working on the lake. This year CORM will have their fourth graduating class. Many of these students will continue studying at the university level.
Curated by Samantha O’Connell ‘20 Gallery Exhibition Research Assistant and Summer Scholars Recipient
Art for Women Empowerment has a mission to support women in the art world, their art, and the subjects they paint. The all-female artists’ show will support women artists and will help bring attention to the lack of female representation in museums and galleries.
Through the many major feminist movements throughout our country including “Me Too” and “Time’s Up,” it is important to continue the fight towards equality for women. Art plays a major role in society, and I believe it is important to use art’s influence to promote the fight for feminism both inside and outside of the art world. The fight for equal rights for all women includes equal standards for women and men within the workplace and a world where women are viewed as equal to men, socially, politically and economically, and view women as more than sexual objects, but capable and powerful.
By bringing attention to the injustices and inequalities women face, the world will begin to recognize the problems and work towards change. Visual art appeals to people, which is why we go to museums; however, behind the art’s face value there is meaning, and when we take that meaning and apply it to what we see, our perspectives can be influenced, which makes art a more impactful means of promoting change. In terms of feminist art, the intentions behind the works in this exhibition, are to put emphasis on women empowerment and the inequalities women face within the art world but generally in the outside world as well. Feminist art allows viewers to reflect on its message and relate that message to the viewers’ own lives by sparking questions such as: Do I face inequality because of my gender? Do I contribute to gender inequality?
Abby Lustig is a painter from Pennsylvania. Ever since she started volunteering for a non-profit financial rehabilitation center called Homefront, her art has taken a focus toward empowerment. Abby volunteers for the art program Homefront offers, and many of the people who use the program are women. After interviewing each woman who comes in, Abby paints her portrait. “The questions I ask are about what the artist loves about herself, how she uses art to empower herself, and what aspect of the world she would like to change.” Abby uses oil paint for each painting and depending on the portrait, the creation of each one can take from 4 to 10 hours. Abby finds that each portrait turns out better when she doesn’t analyze every stroke, rather paints what she sees.
After having volunteered at Homefront for over a year now, Abby describes the people she’s worked with as “some of the most self-motivated and intelligent knowledge-seekers I have ever met. Just the other day, I had a conversation with a woman whose favorite things to talk about are quantum theory and color theory. Each visit, I grow closer to these artists and learn more about their character, not their “story.” Another woman who I am also going to paint, has daughters who have degrees in criminal justice and psychology and are extremely successful… I realized how selfless this woman is. She gave everything to her children so that they could have a better future, and she is now pursuing her education.”
Abby feels that her goal as an artist is to “remove the stigma that many people associate homelessness with and replace it with an understanding of their character and actual art.” Abby wants artists to be empowered and she wants to further her knowledge of “what great and inspiring people they are… “I intend to make the artists gain confidence, and in her mission to boost confidence and empowerment through art, Abby has built upon her interview questions in addition to asking about what the artist loves about herself. She asks questions regarding the artists’ emotions and feelings they get when they create their own work.
Alexis Trionfo is currently a student at Elizabethtown College with a minor in studio art. Although her traditional media was painting with oils and pastels, she found a new love for digital photography after taking a class her senior year of high school. Alexis feels that she can truly capture moments with her photography. She particularly enjoys photographing in black and white; by doing so, Alexis feels like she captures the person’s soul rather than their clothes or their particular surroundings.
Alexis’s artistic process goes beyond the technical bits of photography. She feels the closest she comes to capturing a person’s soul is when they’re smiling. As she describes, “It feels like their truest, purest forms. I like to just talk with the people that I’m photographing as normal, hoping to catch them off guard, more vulnerable and real.” It is very clear that Alexis portrays the souls of each individual she photographs whether in color or black and white.
Additionally, Alexis’s work empowers women. She feels that women, although they should be treated equally in a political and economical standpoint, women empowerment goes beyond this, because women deserve to be “viewed equally, spoken to equally, judged equally, etc.” By capturing the souls of those she photographs, Alexis unveils the way should be viewed in a society as “strong, beautiful, intelligent, creative, and independent.” She states, “Women do not need to be validated by a man before they contribute, they have earned the right to be heard and seen without justification. Empowerment has to come from that belief, and it starts with us being given a fair chance to do so.”
CJ Agnello is a 20 year old visual and literary artist currently living in Brooklyn. She is presently pursuing her BFA at the School of Visual Arts, NYC set to graduate in 2020. Over the last two years of working towards her degree she has experimented with many different styles. While her work’s message does not come across as immediately feminist, the way she is boldly making her mark in fields that are dominated by men however is. Film, literature and painting are all artistic pursuits that she pursues and these mediums still today in 2018 are chiefly populated by men. Her work speaks for, and stands for itself when it comes to its power, feeling the presence of the women she paints and the vitality they lack or embrace. Agnello’s paintings, in this exhibition, feature paintings emphasizing the beauty of women from all different ethnicities and backgrounds, including her own self portrait. Not only does Agnello want her work to be known, but her face and named to be attached to it.
Along with portraits, Agnello’s work also includes an experimentation with body form. The colors and strokes imitate the wide range of bodily forms. By bringing them all together, she accentuates the beauty of all bodily forms. On the other hand, Agnello’s wood canvas of three figures, the question arises, who are these men? Women? This ambiguity is to emphasize the beauty of the inner person rather than their physicalities, by utilizing bright and bold palettes. When one observes these various and powerful forms, one comes to know her passion and talent for the art world.
Having spent the last 10 summers traveling through arctic regions, Pickarski discovered a deep love for the eternal beauty of icebergs. He finds them to appear sculpturally magnificent, as if crafted in a way that seems too perfect for this world. In this series of photographs, he aims to portray both the ethereal beauty of icebergs, as well as the otherworldliness of the landscapes in which they exist.
Senior Art Thesis Exhibition April 5 – May 18, 2019
Reception: Friday, April 5, 6-8pm
The senior art majors present their theses in varying mediums and themes. This exhibit is the culmination of their yearlong art capstone course. These young artists express their identities and visions that they have developed through their experiences and instruction during the course of their college careers.
My photography explores the relationship with the people of Philadelphia and the streets surrounding them. I am influenced by the energy of the city; from the Philadelphia art museum, to the sports fans, to the hundreds of different cheesesteaks joints to try. Philadelphia offers something that no other place in the world echoes time and time again, love. My work strives to capture the electricity of this city.
My mother’s side is originally from South Philadelphia, we are proud Philadelphians. My great grandfather used to own a hardware store on Ritner street. My mother’s side is Italian, so I have been surrounded by the seven fish meal, making homemade gravy and pitzels my entire life. My mom is a Philly girl, and used worked in the heart of Philly, Broad Street. She worked at Bellevue at Pierre and Carlo, a high end hair salon, and at the historic Wannamaker’s as a buyer. There is a strong connection between my family and Philly because of my mother’s side. We love the food, the atmosphere, the crazy fans, because we are one of them. This is the city of brotherly love, and I am proud to say it.
My exhibit, “Hand-made in Philly” incorporates 24 pictures printed on cotton. I chose cotton for its “all American” routes and it use in sports clothing, and each cotton piece is hand sewn together by myself. Piece by piece, I constructed a map to illuminate the people and streets of Philadelphia. In and around the map, I sowed the county line of Philly using words that are associated with Philly, like; jawn, Reading Terminal Market, and Rocky.
I have shot these photos since the Pope visited here, in September 2015. Each picture captures a candid moment. I chose not to capture the typical iconic scenes of the city like the rocky steps or city hall. Rather I aimed to show the real, spontaneity and vibrancy of the city I am proud to say I was born in.
Still Here began with explorations of Wildwood, New Jersey. I had passed by these buildings so many times in my youth and never recognized the beauty in them until I visited in the off season. Although New Jersey beach towns seem deserted in the winter, these structures stand proudly while awaiting summer to house new and returning beach goers. The more time I spent wandering Wildwood, the more I began to appreciate the 60s-inspired themes that each motel wore on its exterior. The repetition of color can be appreciated in the off season– the stillness paired with the sound of the wind and waves allows for less distractions and more focus on the structures themselves. In order to accentuate the strong geometrics of the buildings, the 35mm analog photos are framed tightly around the lines of each structure, while railings, doorways, and building edges act as each image’s natural edge. The series is printed on wood and glass, referencing the raw materials used in most of Wildwood’s buildings. Whether it’s a motel, home, apartment, or structures that house people, they all have a story to tell, and Wildwood has plenty behind each colorful door.
My current body of work is focused on ocean life affected by plastic pollution and overfishing. This is an important issue to me because of my summers spent on Cape Cod. The beauty of the Cape Cod National Seashore has inspired me to use my voice and act. This stretch of coast land is a fragile ecosystem. The removal of even one species can have catastrophic effects on the area. This series is inspired by Cape Cod marine life because of their famous oysters. These oysters were almost fished to extinction in the twentieth century. Regulations and awareness have helped this species rebound but their fight is not over. Shellfish populations are still low, and pollution has caused their shells to weaken. This series highlights the beauty of their shells and the treasures within these meek creatures.
The centerpiece of this project is a Great White shark. They have become endangered through overfishing and collisions with ship vessels. There are estimated to be less than 3,500 left in the world. Another central element of this project is a Blue Fin Tuna. Blue Fin Tuna are the number one endangered fish species in the world. Overfishing of this species is caused by their high market value and popularity in the sushi industry. I have also sculpted other depleted species including Atlantic Salmon, Halibut and Mahi Mahi. Mahi Mahi is a highly sought-after game fish. Conservation of these species will help protect the oceans for future generations. My goal is to raise awareness of these issues caused by Global Climate Change. Nothing in natures happens in isolation. When we change our behaviors, they will have a positive chain reaction.
Adrift: (adj.) not anchored; moving with the sea & wind;
floating without being moored or steered
This body of work is Adrift. I am drawn to water because it is full of contradiction; it is calm yet chaotic, life giving yet treacherous, constant yet unpredictable. It is full of history and necessary to our being. Through painting it, I feel its rhythm and movement and spirit. I aim to capture the beauty in the untouched, applying whimsy with sureness.
I am able to place value in the moment and pull what I need from the water, just as I hope the viewer is able to do. Its contradictions become its strengths as we see what we need to see. Adrift captures a variety of these needs – tranquility, a push, reassurance, and relief.
As I continue painting water I aim to continue transforming vast spaces on small canvases. I have set only two parameters: smaller canvases are for larger expanses where shoreline and skyline can exist in a condensed space; larger canvases are for close up, in depth depictions of water entangled with light. This juxtaposition of big meets small and vice versa mimics the contradiction of the waves themselves.
Let the water hit your feet as I invite you into my world of miniatures.
Shelter is a project visualizing time spent underground in Oklahoma storm cellars. These cool, dim spaces are both havens and tombs. Mattern uses the cellar as a life -size camera with the air vent as the lens. The result is an abstract arrangement of celestial circular forms mimicking these cellars that punctuate the landscape of the mid-west.
Andy Mattern utilizes unique methods of photography to create the images found in “Shelter.” The storm cellars, so prevalent in the central United States, act as Mattern’s “camera.” Mattern uses the air vent as the camera lens; pressing light sensitive paper up to the vent allowing the only available light to filter through creating a lone image. What emerges is a rather unusual image, a black and white abstract orb. “It is barely even an image,” says Mattern, “yet the images capture the impression of the place, with the focus being on the interior.”
The name “Shelter” refers to the fact that this project took place inside of Oklahoma storm cellars, or storm shelters, where local people take refuge during tornadoes. In this exhibition, the photographs are intentionally scattered to mimic an aerial view of Tornado Alley in Oklahoma. This was a new experience for Mattern, one where he “felt like a tourist,” as he had never been inside of a tornado shelter before this project. Having to go door to door asking to be let into the cellars, Mattern soon found a “welcoming environment” in this unfamiliar location. He notes that this new, albeit scary, location allowed him to feel connected to the community around him. Perhaps this speaks to this universal understanding of shelter, and the consolation it can bring in the most dire of circumstances.
~ Maggie Nealon, ‘20
Gallery Exhibition Research Assistant
Andy Mattern is represented by Elizabeth Houston Gallery, New York
Artist Talk/Reception: Thursday, Jan 17, 11:30am – 12:30pm
This series is inspired by Ernst Haeckel’s illustrations, lithographs and drawings that blur the lines between art and science. In his time these prints were ubiquitous, their presentation of a natural world whose forms can be ordered, understood and, most importantly, improved upon took deep root in pre-War Western culture. Haeckel’s firm belief that all organisms were made up of geometric crystalline structures that could be perfected through evolution caused him to exaggerate and idealize the organisms he represented. This ideological quest for perfection in the natural world went on to become an important influence on Eugenics programs that took these views to their terrible extremes.
Like previous generations, I can’t help but be fascinated by these illustrations despite my awareness of their problematic ideological foundations and history. My work takes Haeckel’s embellishments one step further, exaggerating the stranger elements of his creations based on my own aesthetic preferences rather than scientific observation. Like Haeckel, my figures are inspired by plants, sea creatures and protists, and my unapologetic fabulation demonstrates what happens when ideology supersedes observations. My pieces are hand-made, but I’ve used model magic coated with acrylic gel medium to intentionally resemble 3D printed models in an attempt to borrow from the aura of objectivity that envelopes scientific illustration. Although this work is inspired by an historical example, in this time of “alternative facts” where truth seems so illusory, these questions of ideology and objectivity are just as relevant today.