Art Gallery Undergraduate Exhibit
By Emily Stoll
If you have some spare time, drop by the Fanette Goldman Carolyn Greenfield Art Gallery to see the VPA (Visual and Performing Arts) Undergraduate Exhibit, a juried show featuring student work of freshmen, sophomores, and juniors. But hurry; it only runs until 4 p.m. Monday, Feb 14. (EDITOR'S NOTE: Our apologies that The INSIGHT didn't come out soon enough for readers' final chance to catch this exhibition. Nevertheless, we hope the coverage is appreciated.)
This exhibit has many interesting pieces, from Katie Winstel’s “Oreo Truffle Package,” which is reminiscent of the type of packaging a small child would parade around as her "purse," to Lindsay Cannizzaro’s “Beatlemania,” which features a man with titles of Beatles songs written all over him.
“Obsession’s Touch” is without a doubt one of the most interesting works in the exhibit. The acrylic and ink piece, created by freshman Sara O’Brien, has a very busy pattern that gives off an Egyptian sort of vibe. From the inner black-and-white section to the outer part, which features oranges, yellows, and reds, there’s a lot to see. Images of pyramids, eyes, an altar-like structure, and many other things cover the paper. You will see something new every time you look, causing the feeling that only the artist truly knows all of the secrets hidden in the complex design.
However, the mood Juan Esguerra’s “Record Death” gives is a bit more somber. At first glance, it is simply an old camera, depicted in black and white. However, if you look closer at the image in the bottom left corner, it becomes clear that it is a human jawbone.
Another work with a similar tone is “Finger Food,” by Hannah Okel. The piece depicts a large spoon standing vertically on a nondescript background. Innocent enough at a passing glance. But if you pause for a moment, you will find in the bowl of the spoon what is unmistakably a human finger bone. How did it get there, and who is the unfortunate soul it belonged to? More importantly, who did the spoon belong to?
For something more lighthearted, take a look at one of the most eye-catching pieces in the show: Cameron Garrity’s “James M Scrapladder,” a puppet made of fur, foam, fleece, and felt. The little green guy is like the Muppets in structure, except with legs. It’s sure to be a special treat for the young and the young at heart.
Another interesting piece is “Self Portrait (Spin the Fan),” a mixed media work by Nicole Earl. A fan is mounted on a canvas, covered in bright colors of mostly blues and greens. However, the title of this piece raises a question: does the artist actually intend for visitors to spin the fan? If not, it provides temptation akin to that of pulling a fire alarm; beware if you are easily tempted.
One of a small collection on a display table near the front of the gallery brings to mind the monster in the closet. Jason Tower’s “Untitled” provides a somewhat cartoonish image from its pinkish coloring and human-like structure mixed with frog-like arms, legs, and feet. Encountering this creature in the middle of the night would be frightening, except for the fact that it is only about a foot tall.
Every piece has a story behind it, some better known than others. Miranda Roth’s “The Lottery” is one with a more notable back-story. The piece is an actual window frame constructed around a canvas. It seems like a calm, everyday scene; common items are sitting on the sill, most notably the stone and folded scraps of paper, and a group of children are making a pile of rocks outside. It all seems so innocent—until you know the story. The reminder of Tessie Hutchinson’s fate at the hands of a mob of her supposed friends and neighbors puts a damper on the seemingly lighthearted mood of the piece.
If you remain in the gallery long enough, you may notice an old sketchbook sitting on a table. It’s not too eye-catching at first; the cover is beginning to rip, and a number of pages have been torn out of the front. But if you read the note above the table, you will discover the story behind it. Lauren Fratantonio, a junior (and The INSIGHT's cartoonist), created this piece—“Ernie’s Book”—in honor of her Grandfather-figure Ernie, and invites visitors to the gallery to take a peek inside.
The book is filled with brief notes, such as “I want to talk to Ernie,” along with sketches of houses, Victorian architecture, microscopes, instruments, and many other things Fratantonio used to talk about and wishes she could still talk about with Ernie. The piece is a touching tribute to someone who obviously meant a lot to the artist.
The VPA Undergraduate Exhibit is well worth the time to stop by and visit. The artists of Daemen have obviously put a lot of work into their pieces, and it is a delight and privilege to be able to stop by and see the art.