Senior Art Majors’ Thesis Exhibition

E L I A N A   A C T O R – E N G E L
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This collection of hand-built sculpture and pottery is an exhibition of vulnerability and complex hope. Personally, I have always been able to rationalize and cope with pain through the artistic process, in particular via its facets of self-exploration, expression, and even beauty. I decided to expand the scope of my project using a survey I devised, with a special interest in seeing how my responses to certain questions differ and align with those of others in the queer community. I disseminated my survey to my queer community and encouraged them to be open and honest; the bowls and sculptures each feature language taken from (and often reworded for clarity) their responses to the following questions:

If you could acquire any quality that you admire — whether it be mental, spiritual, or emotional — what would it be?

Has fear ever stopped you from doing something you wanted to? Describe a time this may have happened.

What is something you haven’t forgiven yourself for?

What are you holding on to that you want to let go of?

Though the answers vary, recurring themes of safety, anxiety, trauma, abuse, and gender dysphoria appear abundantly, suggesting their pre valence in the queer community.

The visual approach to this project is equally important as the messages scrawled across each form’s surface. Each piece adheres somewhat to the traditional aesthetics of Japanese ceramics, making use of porcelain and cobalt surfaces. Additionally, the technique used to repair some of the plates that broke during the firing is the Japanese process of Kintsugi, or to repair with gold. This further suggests to the viewer that simply because something appears broken at first glance, it may be able to be healed in a way that leaves it more precious than before. My theory is that the same is often true of people, in that a sense of brokenness in a person does not decrease their value and that vulnerability can be used to combat the fears that caused the breaks themselves. My experience both in physically creating these works of art and answering the survey have shown me the power of being unapologetically honest with the self in order to dispel the shame and guilt that surrounds fear.

 

J O E   W.   G R E V E R A __________________________________________________________

My sculptural work involves the mending of visual organization with pottery. With my wheel-thrown and large coil-built vessels, I take the traditional view of “pottery as replication” to another level by arranging different—but similar—forms around each other. Hopefully, this challenges how the visual impact of a group (of similar objects) may affect our perception of an individual object(s)—at what point does the group become the unit? I try to personify my pieces by subjecting them to alternative firing methods, allowing fire to do what it will with each piece. “Raku” is an ancient Japanese method of firing a clay piece until it is red hot, then taking it out of the kiln and submerging it into a container of combustibles to “reduce” in an oxygen-starved environment. A unique and unpredictable coloring is formed by the reaction of copper in the glazes. In a similar reducing process, I’ve used a wood fire kiln to allow the ash and heat to imprint on each piece. The beauty these firing methods are very recognizable yet nearly impossible to replicate.

With the large vases, I start by cutting one shape and then additional shapes that are reacting to each other. Once the cut pieces are physically removed, the “mother” vase appears to have lost its purpose and integrity. The cut pieces, or “kids”, are then meticulously refined and raku-fired. Just as with the original vase, each piece influences the next until they fit together. Although the “mothers” may have beauty, the “kids” grow to create something far greater.

Through these arrangements I invite a viewer to pass slowly—especially along the wall piece—to observe the alignments and misalignments, to enjoy the individual pieces, the spaces between and around them, and the arrangement as a whole. We are all unique and when we forget that, we get lost in a crowd.

 

H A N N A H   K E R K E R I N G
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I strive to make all my work simplistic, eye-catching, and powerful, and at the same time visually attractive. I start with a goal of what I want to accomplish, although I don’t always know how I’m going to get there. I always try to put myself in my work as much as possible by incorporating my personal style as well as my opinions and past experiences.

In this series, I want people to start analyzing and discussing social media, and how it often causes women to take drastic measures in order to achieve the “perfect body”. Influenced by the things and people I see every day on social media, I gather pictures of the most common unhealthy beauty habits and use these pictures as a stencil for my illustrations. The images are unrealistic and appear unfinished in order to reiterate how these bodies, as portrayed on social media, are unnatural and unrealistic.

With this body of work, I am encouraging people, especially young women, to consider why they feel they need to change their appearance. Poor body image among women is nothing new. However, the shocking statistics combined with the familiar imagery should provoke dialogue.

 

C.  S O F I A   N A A B
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My art medium is cross stitch. Cross stitch is a craft, where I sew stitches in the form of X’s. I started learning to sew when I was very little. My abuelita, (grandmother) taught me, and introduced me to a craft that isn’t done as often as it was in the old days, when women did embroidery as a pastime. By the time I was in high school, I became so obsessed with the craft that it was suggested that I do projects from my own pictures, but I didn’t actually start doing it until last year. I found the tools that allow me to upload a picture, pixelate it, and decide how big I want the finished piece to be, thereby converting the image into a pattern. The challenge is in the precision of the stitches; I manage this by marking the back of cloth every ten stitches, which is how the pattern is gridded: small squares separated by a bold line every 10 x 10 stitches.

Most artists create work that shows an emotional interpretation of a subject. My work doesn’t give me any sense of emotion; rather, it’s an experimental process that combines contemporary photography with an outdated craft. When I started this project, I wasn’t thinking about what I was going to do, I just wanted to finally try something of my own design. I’m an individual with a mild form of autism, therefore, I often display a repetitive behavior; sewing is a craft with a repetitive motion, so when I do it I’m not thinking about how the project is going to turn out (I have those thoughts when I’m creating the pattern). Once I have a pattern to guide me, the finished product is already mapped out on the fabric, so to speak, and I think I can concentrate on bringing it to life. I thought this would be an appropriate “Senior Project” as I like the idea of creating something that most people haven’t seen before.

 

J U L I A N   A.   S M I T H
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When making my work I seek to create a space that the viewer can project themselves into and explore. The spaces take on the form of fantastical and alien landscapes, but each begins with an individual object from which I expand and build; much like a conversation.

The initial object is an abstraction of an emotion or experience. Often they spring from my struggles with mental illness, specifically depression. I then translate the emotion or experience into a physical object which seeks to convey something that is central to the subject. For example, containment and enclosure are common themes that I visit when exploring my mental illness.

Once the initial object is complete I begin to react and respond to it much as you would follow a line of thinking. I have a conversation with the objects I build and attempt to piece them together like an argument; putting in new ideas when I have them, and taking out ones that don’t work. Eventually, I end up with a landscape of objects that has sprung from a single emotion or experience, much like an argument springs from a single thought.

The spaces are meant to function as places to escape to, but also as spaces that encourage reflection and introspection. Hopefully, the abstract nature of these spaces allows the viewer to step outside the boundaries they unconsciously set for themselves, and explore ideas in a way they might not have let themselves before.

I find it is important to step back and look at things in a new way. Whether they be brand new, or familiar issues. Sticking to our entrenched ways of thinking leads us nowhere and does us, and our communities, a disservice. If we are to grow as a community we will need to step outside our habitual ways of thinking and explore new and potentially uncomfortable ideas.

Student Ceramics Exhibition

Student Ceramics Exhibition
by Devon D’Andrea ‘20, Gallery Exhibition Research Assistant


Kristin Skeuse ’18

Ceramics is an art form dating back to prehistoric times that involves heating and cooling an inorganic solid to create a desired shape. Ceramic vessels have been used functionally and decoratively by almost every culture in the world. This medium is noted for its demand of patience, craftsmanship, and artistry.

Led by Jill Allen, the Advanced Ceramics students offer pieces that express accomplished freedom and personality. Neil Patterson guided Ceramics I students in learning the foundation of ceramics, with pieces displaying a full understanding of shape, texture, and balance.

These works are by art majors and minors, as well as by  work from students who double major or major in disciplines other than art. Although there is no common theme among the pieces exhibited, Allen and Patterson both feel that both the beginner and advanced compositions display the students’ hard work and personal artistry. The variety and diversity of the work these students have produced is a representsation of the diversity of the students’ approaches .

Joseph Grevera, Class of 2018

The pieces Joe, a  major, included in this show are representative of trial and error, and he considers them to be works that he feels are personal success stories. Much of his current work revolves around exploring a certain process, with the final product being more representative of the process than of the form itself. One of his works, a set of three vessels, was created using traditional Raku firing techniques, and are displayed in order according to the length of firing time, the shortest being the most copper in tone, and the longest being the bluest the longest.

Alexandra Herrera, Class of 2018

     

In creating the set of sake cups and an accompanying sake jar, Alexandra, a  major, was inspired by a traditional sake set her grandmother gave her, as well as a trip to Japan when she was a child. The sake jar is rounded and natural, a personal take on traditional cylindrical sake jars. Similarly, the set of Nightmare Before Christmas themed cups and Corpse Bride plate are reminiscent of the movies she loved growing up. All of Alexandra’s works were created all of her works using a non-traditional process, looking at the design process as a culmination of multiple techniques to perfectly represent her vision.

Christopher Stevens, Class of 2018

Christopher, a senior Biology major, floored instructor Neil Patterson with his enthusiasm and talent. One of his pieces, inspired by Avatar: The Last Airbender is a vase meant to replicate an artifact from The Fire Nation, a fictional culture from the show, while employing fundamental pottery techniques.

 

Welcome to the Art Department

https://www.instagram.com/sjugallery/

 

“Hair Pieces” photography by Rebecca Drolen

 

Rebecca’s Artist Talk 3/1/18

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“Shearing” 30 x 30″

In her explorative Hair Pieces, photographer Rebecca Drolen calls us to consider the place of beauty, of standards, of hair within the context of our society. Through self-portraiture Drolen captures a dynamic collection of images that focus on the roles we place on hair. Her approach is both surreal and tongue-in-cheek. “The imagery and symbolism of hair as strength (mythologically) or beauty and sexuality in contemporary culture, seemed to be such a fruitful territory to spend time making within,” Drolen explains.

Hair Pieces considers the juxtaposition of body hair, the desirable and the disgraceful. In a much broader sense it offers a social critique of identity and self-image in a contemporary context.

One of the collection’s photographs, “Longer Lashes,” Drolen crosses humor with horror; her jarring, hyperbolic response to the question of when unrealistic feminine standards turn sour.  “The theme that I am most interested in is that we have so many double standards for hair,” says Drolen. “We cultivate and embrace hair in some areas of our bodies (indeed we sometimes feel like we cannot have enough), while we compulsively remove and hide that we have hair on other parts of our bodies.  We enter cycles of growth and removal that seem to be a shared exercise in frustration and futility – it keeps growing back.”

Hair Pieces probes the questions of that tension from a fresh and unyielding perspective. A comprehensive meditation, the collection is Drolen’s first major work in her post-graduate career.

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“Toe Hair” mixed media 1.5″ x 1.5″

The collection Hair Pieces in on view in conjunction with the Society for Photographic Education (SPE) National conference, held in Philadelphia this year, March 1-4. The SPE is a nonprofit organization that aims to promote a larger, more comprehensive understanding of the medium public programs and service.

~ Nick Crouse ‘19
Gallery Exhibition Research Assistant

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“Haircut” 30 x 90″

 

Student Digital Photography

Coffee Hour, Tuesday, 2/20 8am – 9am.
Stop by Boland Hall Gallery for coffee and take a look at this series of student photographs


Samantha Hagelbarger

Students in Professor Krista Svalbonas’s Digital Photography I class present their latest images. There are over twenty photographs on display by fifteen students from varying backgrounds covering a wide range of subjects.

 


Natalie Simms

Experimenting with shutter speed, aperture, depth of field, the rule of thirds, and light,  students from Professor Krista Svalbonas’s Digital Photography 1 class explored a particular theme or idea in these photographs Practicing different techniques has pushed students to identify certain technical and aesthetic characteristics of a photograph inside and outside of the classroom.  According to Svalbonas, “Digital Photography 1 introduces students to the fundamental terminology, concepts, methodologies, and techniques of digital photography. It focuses on the principles of composition, lighting, and visual story telling in photography.”

These photos show students’ perspectives on “how to tell a narrative story of the human experience” through digital photography, according to Professor Svalbonas. Svalbonas encouraged students to “photograph something that you feel strongly about, that interests you and you want to learn more about.”

For Dylan Eddinger ’19, Digital Photography 1 has challenged him to come out of his comfort zone as a photographer. As Eddinger reflects on taking Digital Photography 1, he now feels confident that I can effectively create my own narrative in photographs.” Eddinger recalls one of the biggest obstacles he faced:photographing a series of photos thatinvolved something bigger than myself.”         

Eddinger chose to shoot his photographs at different locations throughout the city of Philadelphia. Prior to taking each photograph, he had a specific vision in mind. The man he photographed surrounded by American flags is a Philadelphia native and blues rocker who idolizes Bruce Springsteen.     One of Eddinger’s favorite images in the exhibition is from his long exposure series that contains the tagline for the fight against opioid addiction; “It only takes a little to lose a lot.” In a place where heroin takes over the streets, Eddinger found himself walking past “many struggling homeless people, and witnessed two corner deals” as he stood under the L train in Kensington Philadelphia at 2:45 am. As a result of witnessing what many people face in their daily lives, Eddinger believes that there is hope for these people who have become addicted in our city.” Using photography, Digital Photography 1 had the opportunity to bring social and political issues in Philadelphia to light.

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“Photography can offer you a new way to look at your surroundings. It can surprise, inspire, excite and re-imagine the world around us.”    Professor Krista Svalbonas

—Kelly Smith ’19
Gallery Exhibition Research Assistant

Blaise Knebels

 

Cynwyd Trail – Directed Projects, Student Work

Coffee Hour, Tuesday, 1/30 8am – 9am.
Stop by Boland Hall Gallery for coffee a take a look at this series of student photographs.


Angelynn Rodriguez, gelatin silver print

In Spring 2017, Saint Joseph’s University offered “Directed Projects” for the first time. It was a “trial of sorts,” according to Professor Susan Fenton, and the plan was to have students complete three independent projects. However, after the art curator of the Cynwyd Trail Café asked Professor Fenton if she would be interested in showcasing her students’ work at the café, this project was added.

The Cynwyd trail is a paved path where people can bike, walk, rollerblade and hike. The trail runs from Bala Cynwyd to Manyunk, and was once an active train track. At the end of the path sits the Cynwyd Trail Café, which was formerly the old station house. Fenton wanted to incorporate her students’ work into the exhibit, but why not also exhibit the something about the Cynwyd Trail? Professor Fenton had her students go out to the trail without their cameras and take in the scenery, then had them return with a camera.

The students were able to choose from two types of photographic techniques, gelatin silver printing, a film photographic technique, and archival pigment print, which involves digital photography. Those who were using film photography had to use at least one roll of film, and those using digital photography had to take at least 50 shots. Then each student chose one photograph they wanted to exhibit at the café.

According to Angelynn Rodriguez, who chose silver gelatin print, her photograph, “Westminster,” reflected her particularly “creepy” style of photography, “almost like a stalker, meaning not a lot of people tend to be in my photos or it’s usually strangers in the street, going about their day and I’m capturing a moment that I think is happening via my eyes.” “Westminster” highlights what she thinks to be a gate keeper’s quarters or possibly a chapel called Westminster. Angelynn found this abandoned, brick stone Victorian at the end of nature path branching off the Cynwyd trail. She found the building particularly inspiring because one wouldn’t know the building was there at first sight because “you have to actually follow the same foot path that I took in the photo.” For the original print, Angelynn focused on burning and dodging in order to bring out the details of the trail she walked along.

Another student, Xiao Chen, contributed to the project with his archival pigment piece, “294.” “I spent time walking along the Cynwyd trail, photographing everything which could represent the Cynwyd trail. I learned to be patient, you have to look around carefully to get what you want. It was a good experience and I really enjoyed this project.” “294” was the number of the train he photographed. There was no special thing about this train, he exaplined, “I just wanted people to have their attention on the train.” Although Xiao loved the process, he struggled with the color of the photograph, trying to mimic the color on the screen, before it was printed. However, after a couple of attempts, he was finally able to achieve the color he wanted.

Professor Fenton believes the project, and Directed Projects in general, was a success. Although the class was intended to carry out independent projects, the “Cynwyd Trail” brought the class together, while still maintaining independent aspects. Professor Fenton looks forward to showcasing her future students’ work at the Cynwyd Café.

~ Samantha K. O’Connell ‘20
Gallery Exhibition Research Assistant

Andrew Cornell Robinson “Wishful Thinking”

ARTIST TALK CANCELLED
Unfortunately, because of the Eagles SuperBowl parade, the University is suspending operations on 2/8 and we are not able to reschedule the artist talk.

Artist Talk:  Thursday, February 8, 2018 11:30 am – 12:30 pm in the gallery.
All are welcome!

Wishful Thinking

In Wishful Thinking Andrew Cornell Robinson explores how humans create meaning. These works, primarily ceramics and photography, defy traditional ideas of what objects of worship should look like, while upholding their original function.

Living and working in New York City at the time of the 9/11 terrorism attacks, Robinson took particular notice of the way the people of Manhattan mourned their dead. Specifically, Robinson fondly recalls witnessing sanitation workers fiddling with some flowers, candles, and missing persons posters placed along a bridge. A concerned woman asked if the men were taking down the objects, then realized they were covering them with plastic to protect them. This exchange was proof that the small shrines erected in memory of the victims were important to not only the people who put them there, but to the entire community. This poses the question: how do people create meaning from objects?

In answering this question Robinson also looks back to his childhood in New Jersey, where his grandparents housed “curiosity cabinets” from which he could choose an object and hear a fantastic story of its origin. His grandparents invented these stories, but they were meaningful to young Robinson nonetheless.

These moments of personal history expanded to community and then world history for the artist, prompting him to ask Who and what is worshipped in the rest of the world? One of the artist’s reasons for creating these works was to explore who is glorified and who is forgotten, and why.  For example, the main inspirations for Rebel Heart is the story of the Death of the Marat. When Jean-Paul Marat was fatally stabbed by Charlotte Corday in 1793, he became one of the most powerful martyrs of the French Revolution. After his death, Marat’s organs were removed and placed in elaborate reliquary jars for worship after his murder.

The goal of these works is to prompt viewers to question what we worship, and, more importantly, how we worship. In speaking about this exhibition, Robinson described it as “kind of a riff on altarpieces.” This series of modern shrines and reliquaries emphasize and redefine the physicality of worship.

~ Devon D’Andrea ‘20
Gallery Exhibition Research Assistant


12 x 10 x 8″ slip cast porcelain

ARTIST STATEMENT

Andrew Cornell Robinson has developed an intuitive and socially engaged approach to the production of interdisciplinary art with a particular interest in bridging art, design and craft with design strategies and methodologies. Robinson creates ceramic, sculpture and mixed media objects and images with a rich attention to materiality. He begins most projects with research that is often historical in nature and driven by a fictionalized character derived from design personae; a methodology used by industrial designers. Leveraging this device enables him to reexamine memory through the production of images and artifacts that tell a revisionist history, examining coded languages and mistranslations. His recent work is often focused on the queer and peculiar within the context of forms that include reliquaries and memento mori artifacts. In carefully researching and creating rich narratives and personae represented by a network of images and objects, he aims to engage the ways we understand historical memory and our place in it.

Hidden narratives have always been important to Robinson.[*] Signs and symbols, colors and materials may all convey meaning from the spiritual to the profane. Robinson’s latest project translates his interest in revisionist histories and is partly a meditation upon the discord within American culture and politics. Expressed through a series of secular shrines, reliquaries, artifacts and images the project began with an examination and reinterpretation of the life and death of the French revolutionary Jean-Paul Marat. When Charlotte Corday plunged her knife into the heart of Marat in July of 1793, she created one of the French Revolution’s most powerful martyr heroes. His body and memory were elevated into a ceremonial pantheon. His heart was removed and placed into a makeshift reliquary–a bejeweled urn that had once belonged to the deposed French monarchy. The reliquary served as a focal point for public ceremony and devotion. The cult of the Sacred Heart (Sacré-Coeur de Jean-Paul Marat) derived from Catholic rituals and idolization became a visual and formal sign that Robinson has abstracted and reinterpreted through a grotto like form in ceramic, glass and mixed media; as well as a series of shrine like tableau in a contemporary exploration of the memento mori. Translating stories through fragmentation and layering result in a collection of signs and artifacts that act like a rebus open to interpretation.

Born in Camden, NJ, he studied ceramics and sculpture prior to completing his MFA at the School of Visual Arts in New York City where he studied with Thomas Lanigan-Schmidt, and worked with painter Frank Moore, et al. He received an Albee fellowship residency and was a visiting artist in Port Au Prince, Haiti and at the Agastya Foundation, in Bangalore, India. His work has been presented throughout the world with the Kustera Gallery, David & Schweitzer Contemporary, Joyce Goldstein Gallery, Christopher Stout Gallery, Baltimore Contemporary Museum, Bruce Museum, Ross Art Museum, and the United Kingdom Crafts Council. He lives and works in New York City and is a member of the faculty at Greenwich House Pottery and Parsons School of Design.

Robinson’s interest in hidden narratives and coded languages spans many topics that include cultural bias, the misinterpretation or obfuscation of culture and identity and simply mistranslation. For example, “Le Livre des Sauvages” in the Bibliotheque de l’Arsenal in Paris is of particular interest to him. The work was the subject of an 1860 study by Christian Abbe Em Domenech, a missionary to North America, who discovered a document covered in cryptic pictograms and glyphs, which he assumed was created by an indigenous person of the American plains. Domenech’s theory of its provenance has been in question by several German critics, who point out that many of the glyphs are characters comprising German words written in clumsy handwriting. Contemporary opinion of Le Livre Des Sauvages is that its bizarre pictures and odd text were merely the doodling of a German-speaking child living on the American plains.

Another example of a coded language that interests Robinson, is Polari, an innuendo fueled English slang language used primarily (although not exclusively) by gay men in the United Kingdom between the 1920’s and the 1970’s although it’s history and etymology can be traced further into the past. It fell out of use after the partial decriminalization of homosexuality in England and Wales in 1967. This ‘lost language of gay men’ served simultaneously as disguise and identification, when mere existence in the United Kingdom and beyond was punishable with imprisonment and public disgrace. Polari was a form of resistance, a way of queering language, and the expression of a shared culture and identity. Transforming craft materials, artifacts and narratives by speaking through codes and abstraction underlines some of the themes within Robinson’s work.

12 x 10 x 8″ slip cast porcelain

Student Work – Drawing II

Professor Steve Cope’s Drawing II student work featuring:
Rozana Almaddah, Ian Asaph, Shane Chapman, Angelica Christina, Francesca DeSapio, Matthew Erlandson, Kyndall Hawkins, Erin Kelly, Jessica Kerns, Zoe Malone, Regina Oliveri, Hunter Schmeusser, Alexa Sinatore, Andrea Warren, Anissa Wilson

Zoe Malone

Professor Steve Cope’s Drawing II course focuses on enhancing students’ drawing skills. The first half of the semester focuses on sizeable still life drawings. These drawings pay close attention to form, light and shadows, and values of light and dark. Shading within these still life drawings pays attention to the intricate folding of fabric, the features of sculpted heads and texture and shape of pottery vessels. For homework assignments, Professor Cope gives the students a word to interpret in any way that the student wants. For example, one word was “cast.” The drawings produced varied from a fisherman casting, to a cast at a closing of a show. The broad interpretations of the word demonstrate each student’s personality and interests.  Some other homework assignment words were: post, feat, multiple, turn, wearily and swanky.

Gabriella Youshock ’20
Gallery Exhibition Research Assistant


Angelica Christina


Erin Kelly  “Swanky”

 

Jessica Kerns

Within this illustration, a model shifts her head to the left to reveal scenery in the background. The dark and dense background suggests to the viewer that nighttime is swiftly approaching. This is illustrated by the light behind the figure. This drawing was done in pencil, blurring the lines between fiction and reality. This obscuring plays a crucial role in creating feelings of uncertainty, or uneasiness.
– Gabriella Youshock

Ben Schwab – “Getting Here From There”

11/9/17 Artist Talk – Ben Schwab

 
Everything Is Different, But Still The Same, Oil on canvas, 88 x 138 inches, 2017

Getting Here From There

            New York artist Ben Schwab grapples with the theme of “getting here from there” in his collection of cityscape paintings. In this gallery, viewers witness how Schwab’s work questions what he calls our “natural tendencies” as he tries to “make the unobservable, or unseen, more visible.” At first glance, each image appears to be bordering abstraction.  However, the negative space alongside minimal use of color compels the viewer to take a closer look at the details that reveal deteriorating cites such as Damascus and Aleppo.

            Getting Here From There is inspired by Schwab’s interest in video footage collected by drones. Schwab’s “honest sense of curiosity,” as he calls it, motivates him to incorporate images of decaying cities into large scale paintings. In his artistic process, Schwab manipulates and layers multiple screenshots through Photoshop to create one image. Further, the spaces that Schwab works with might appear to be equally familiar as they are unfamiliar to some viewers. Rather than presenting a single perspective in his paintings, Schwab forces viewers to step out of their comfort zones and look at spaces they most likely haven’t seen before. As a result, the nature of “getting here from there” ultimately encourages viewers to strengthen their ability to connect with a place when presented with an image depicting an unfamiliar space.

~ Kelly Smith ‘19
Gallery Exhibition Research Assistant

Transposition Of Immensity, Oil on canvas, 84 x 76 inches, 2016

 

 

Annual Alumni Exhibit – Kate Ambrose & Julia Newell

In this exhibition, alumni artists Kate Ambrose and Julia Newell prioritize the viewer’s emotional and sensory responses to their works. Both artists understand their works as vehicles of self-recognition, reflection, revelation, and remembrance.

In her exploration of abstract expressionism, Ambrose finds her ever-changing artistic approach calling forward the viewer’s subconscious. Attempting to tap into that unfiltered mindset, “evoking raw conversation,” Ambrose says, “is what [she] lives for.” Her work battles with spontaneity and intent, candidly coaxing us to self-examine with a childlike innocence.

Newell similarly places the viewer in control, offering works she says are “fuel[ed by] advocacy to help those who have suffered through mental illnesses.” Her organic forms express seemingly familiar narratives that invite viewers’ interaction. Newell understands painting, she says, as “simply a time to zone out and create.” Her works appear as moments to temporarily forget—or remember and reflect.

~ Nick Crouse, ‘19
Gallery Exhibition Research Assistant

“I’m in the Wrong Film” photography by Hans Gindlesberger

I’m in the Wrong Film is a consideration of our troubled relationship to the marginal places that exist in the national landscape. The title of the series is a colloquialism used to indicate a speaker’s disorientation in regard to physical surroundings that have taken on a disconcerting, fictitious quality. In this series of staged and performative photographs, the experience of individual dislocation the phrase describes is applied more broadly, in articulating the collective loss of identity that permeates the rural and post-industrial landscape of America.

Presented as a constellation of narrative fragments, each photograph manifests the shared psychology between a transient character and constructed environments suggestive of Middle America. The character, wandering with alternating senses of desire and reticent detachment amid his surroundings, is an extension of a place no longer able to sustain itself. The photographs present transitory moments, in which the agency of the character is called into question, arrested by the stillness of the photograph. His impotence and perpetual immobility mirror the circumstance of the small town, which, after being used politically, socially, and aesthetically in defining a national image and identity, is now marked by the stasis of economic decline. Whether by accepting and naturalizing their erasure or attempting to salvage viability through a nostalgic commodification of their past, these communities succumb to an estrangement from their own history and sense of themselves.

A corollary to this rupture can be found in the physical construction of the photographic tableau. The character’s performances are recorded in-studio and are later inserted into landscapes imagined out of multiple photographic fragments. Referencing the mechanics of the theater and silent film, wherein a décor foregrounds the actor’s performance, the composited backdrops provide a visual context for the performances while also establishing a physical and psychological separation. At times, these virtual stages reveal their artifice and begin to falter and collapse upon the character. This implicates not only the narrative content, but also the materiality of the photograph and fallibility of its construction as synchronous sources of the character’s sense of being “in the wrong film.”

The social narrative of the small town, the lack of agency in the character’s performance, and the faltering construction of the image compound upon one another in describing both the instinctive desire and the relative absurdity in attempting to recover a sense of belonging in a time of dislocation.