At This Moment: Faculty Artists in the Gallery

Sarah Haviland, Music & Art

 

“Curators hang a group show for visual connections,” Prof. Elisa Decker (Music & Art) explained to an attentive audience in the March 4th 2015 Gallery Tour of the faculty show titled “At This Moment.” She was elucidating some of the subtle and dynamic hanging decisions made by the faculty members who organized the exhibition of their peers. She was also leading the audience to delve into meanings intended by the artists and interpreted by the gallery-goers themselves.

 

The exhibition "At This Moment" is only the second showing of faculty artwork in the beautiful new Shirley Fiterman Art Center, which also hosts exhibitions of professional artists from outside the college community. The first faculty showing last fall accompanied a musical Steinway Soiree Benefit and included 11 full-time Music & Art members in the expansive light-filled galleries.

 

This year the Fiterman Gallery Faculty Committee wished to represent the talents of their esteemed part-time colleagues as well as Multimedia Arts faculty. The result is a highly varied show of paintings, sculptures, drawings, photographs, digital prints, and artist books by 41 artists.

 

Music & Art faculty members who worked on "At This Moment" as part of the Fiterman Gallery Faculty Committee include: Simon Carr, Elisa F. Decker, Patricia Genova, Peter Greenwald, Charles McGill, Florence Quideau, Jessica Ramirez, and Sarah Haviland, Chair.

 

Committee member Elisa Decker offered a Gallery Tour as a benefit for the art-curious public. She is an Adjunct Assistant Professor who teaches Beginning Drawing as the first Intensive Writing course in a studio art class at BMCC. She is also a practicing visual artist and curator and writes for Art in America.

 

Prof. Decker's tour pointed out connections between the diverse styles and expressions of individual works that hung near each other. She began the hour-long discussion by asking attendees to first give themselves an overview of the show before she addressed the group. She wanted to encourage first impressions, visual and intuitive, before mediating with her own words.

 

Then Prof. Decker led the group around to selected artworks, discussing themes, techniques, and "back stories" gleaned directly from the artists.

 

In the first gallery she focused on two figurative paintings with bold texture and distinct styles by Simon Carr (Music & Art) and Thaddeus Radell (Music & Art). "Existential" searching in the latter’s paint handling and soft color led her to cross the room to compare Chair Study: Presence and Absence by Pat Genova (Music & Art). She pointed out that this atmospheric, shadowy interior was hung next to detailed color photographs of clouds over sea by Alizabeth Towery (Music & Art), and a light-filled oil and pastel landscape by Tim Dagostino (Music & Art), all showing a similar blue color range.

 

Viewers were asked their responses to the mixed-media Shaman by Charles McGill (Music & Art), made out of what Prof. McGill calls "reconfigured golf bags." The wall-relief’s centered dark leather straps with buckles and emerging metal tubes above suggested ideas of a tribal mask, saddles and horseback riding, and even S&M bondage. Prof. Decker's discussion made clear that there is not one right answer, but multiple interpretations. The artists themselves often build in layers of meaning, leaving mixed messages to be picked up by viewers’ thoughts and associations.

 

Very much “at this moment” was a small sculpture by Owen Roberts (Media Arts and Technology). Good-bye consists of a familiar cell phone and digital photograph with surprising Gif animation. It represents one of several recent technologies in the exhibition, along with 3D Lenticular, by Jessica Ramirez (Music & Art), a vivid digital print triptych that uses lenses to create visual shifts depending on where the viewer stands in front of it. Another stunning illusion is created by Susan Leopold (Media Arts and Technology) with Peep, a mysterious small vision in a box made with a digital print, mirror, and lighting.

 

In the long connecting hallway of the Fiterman Art Center, the group closely studied a10” acrylic painting by Betty Copeland (Music & Art), Aleph. The hand-painted grid repeated the Hebrew letter of its title and became, as Prof. Decker described it, a "silent meditation, like a Mandela." Noting the variations of shape and flat or metallic colors creating a 3D appearance, Prof. Decker said, "If you give it time, it starts to pulse."

Nearby, Prof. Decker called attention to a mysterious double-layered work by Ana Garces-Kiley (Music & Art) called Sucede que mecanso de ser hombre, a contradictory title recalling poet Pablo Neruda. The mixed-media image depicting a young girl’s head was appropriately painted on delicate voile. One had to look carefully through the painted veil to see another image etched underneath.

 

While Prof. Decker's Gallery Tour focused on only a limited number of the 44 artworks in the exhibition, she demonstrated how each one can be examined closely and within the context of others, using a receptive mind and verbal attention to see and respond ever more deeply. Her eloquent descriptive words and questions led viewers into new multi-layered reflections.