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


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.

The Tobacco Project – Art & Social Change Lecture

Gallery Lecture
Thursday, September 28, 11am – 12pm.
Boland Hall Gallery, Saint Joseph’s University

Ryan Coffman, MPH, CHES, CTTS-M, Tobacco Policy and Control Program Manager for the Philadelphia Department of Public Health will come to Saint Joseph’s University to speak to students about “The Tobacco Project” and the Health Department’s initiatives to reduce tobacco addiction especially among Philadelphia youth.  He joins SJU art history professor, Dr. Emily Hage who will speak about art as a means for social change.

The lecture begins at 11am in Boland Hall.  Following the lecture, visitors can view the artwork in the gallery while enjoying a light lunch.  This event is free and open to the public.

“The Tobacco Project” on display in the Boland Hall gallery is a collaboration between Saint Joseph’s University, the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services, and the Philadelphia Department of Public Health, Get Healthy Philly.

The tobacco used to create this art was illegally sold to undercover youth surveyors, who visited tobacco retailers and attempted to purchase tobacco.

The cigars, cigarettes, and “loosies” in these pieces were originally intended to recruit the next generation of smokers. We are using innovation and art as a tool for social change by repurposing products intended to cause harm and addiction. The art was created in Professor Ron Klein’s Art 147-Appropriated Art class by the following students:

Zachary Burns, Pablo Diaz, Danielle Dortic, Joseph Grevera, Alexis Hewish, Joshua Lascano, Sarah Mastrocola, Alana Paolella, Alejandro Seda, and  Michael Spinelli.

 

 

“Urban Fabric” by artist Heidi Nam

Inspired by natural rock formations, grid patterns, and the constant evolution of urbanity, Heidi Nam’s collage and multi-media works explore the crossroad between the organic and the metropolitan. Nam’s enamorment of urban development is influenced by both personal and artistic experience, and it is reflected in both her work and her artistic process.

On a 2011 trip to her childhood home in Korea, Nam found the small village of her memory replaced by new development and modernity. Although in many cases the new had completely replaced the old, in some instances, new development was simply layered over the small village’s history. This melding of what was and what could be, paired with her fascination with scape, pattern, and repetition, serves as the fuel on the fire for Nam’s artistic experiment.

To create these pieces, Nam deconstructs her own silkscreen and woodblock prints, drawings, photos, and paintings, and reconstructs the fragments to form new, unique urban landscapes. This construction of the new from the old symbolizes the evolution of urban space. Nam’s multi-faceted work is layered with experience, depth, and variation.

– Devon D’Andrea
Gallery Exhibition Research Assistant

“The Tobacco Project”

A collaboration between Saint Joseph’s University, the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services, and the Philadelphia Department of Public Health, Get Healthy Philly.

Through our partnership with the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services, the Art Department at St. Joseph’s University, and Professor Ron Klein’s Appropriated Art course, we are transforming these products – initially intended for harm and deadly addiction – into works of art. Professor Klein’s students learn to manipulate everyday objects, using multiples and the technique of repetition to create something entirely new from something ordinary. In the past, they have worked with discarded books, q-tips, objects found in abundance at the dollar store, and now they are experimenting with tobacco products. They re-imagined these products, weaving them together in a visually compelling way, and created a series of wall-hangings that will draw in onlookers and surprise them as they come closer.

Art has the capacity to transform how we look at the world, how we interpret our environment, how we connect with others, and can be a powerful platform for spreading social justice messages. These pieces will provide a unique opportunity to address this life and death issue in our city, and an invaluable experience to join together the arts and public health.