In a normal year, the Crowell and West galleries in the Feigenbaum Center for Visual Arts would be hosting new exhibits, with receptions, artist talks and classroom presentations.
But like all sectors, the art world has been critically affected by COVID-19. For the Department of Visual Arts, this has meant having to postpone an entire year of planned exhibitions by visiting artists as well as students.
Faculty and staff also have had shows of their own work cancelled or postponed. However, they have decided to turn an unfortunate situation to their advantage by displaying their recent works in the two galleries.
The result is “Pause,” which features art by Martin Benjamin, Chris Duncan, Abby Golodik, Laini Nemett, Fernando Orellana, Frank Rapant and Sandy Wimer.
Members of the campus community can view the exhibit in person Tuesdays and Thursdays, 10 a.m.- 5 p.m., through April 1. Social distancing guidelines are in place.
An online opening and artist talks are set for Wednesday, March 10, 5-6 p.m., via Zoom.
The exhibit is available to the general public as a virtual 3D walk-through only.
“Pause… it’s what we’re all doing now. An unanticipated and unwanted break, longer and deeper than any of us imagined,” the artists said in a group statement. “Seeing art in person is critically important, and we’re thrilled that everyone in the Union College community will be able to visit this exhibit.”
The works in “Pause” cover a range of mediums and formats. While only some of the artists specifically address issues related to pandemic living, all share the conviction that it’s vital to keep going in the studio, even – and especially – in the worst of times.
Martin Benjamin, William D. Williams Professor of Visual Arts, displays candid street photographs that are made spontaneously, usually without the subject knowing they were photographed. The series resulted from photographing daily while Benjamin was living and traveling in Italy.
Works by Chris Duncan, May I. Baker Professor of Visual Arts, include richly layered “low-tech” sculptures made of paper and cardboard, wood, various metals, plaster, Styrofoam... “whatever works. They’re intended to encompass and evoke certain feelings, sensations, memories. I’m interested in the materiality of the work and try to let that speak through.”
Sculpture lab technician Abby Golodik explores space with line and volume. “If placed carefully enough, line can create life and movement in rigid material,” she says. “These new sculptures continue growing in different directions and push the boundaries of base and stability.”
Paintings by Laini Nemett, John D MacArthur Assistant Professor of Visual Arts, focus on the architecture of natural and built environments. Most recently, Nemett has been exploring landforms of the American Southwest, formed through millions of years of erosion by wind and water. This current series includes large-scale canvases that suggest the epic nature of these canyons and cliff dwellings, as well as more intimate paintings of their inner walls.
Mixed media pieces and robotic arts by Fernando Orellana, associate professor of visual arts, “mirror the collective uncertainty and anxiety of our present.” Using a raw line, an open palette and unfiltered emotion in works that incorporate paint, wood, Sumi-ink and motors, he seeks to “reflect the global paradigm shift, with all its folding complexity, elasticity and constant reconfiguration. Tomorrow will be tomorrow.”
In documenting everyday intimate moments during the 2020 lockdown, Frank Rapant, photography and exhibition technician, reflects on both today and tomorrow in his most recent photographic series, which spans one wall. He states that living in intense closeness with his wife and three young children during the pandemic “has been one of the best and most difficult times of our lives. Every day is a roller coaster of joy and patience.”
Rapant’s images reflect his belief that “we will come through this time stronger as individuals and as families.”
Works by Sandy Wimer, senior lecturer in visual arts, feature lithographs and other pieces that are part of the Union College Permanent Collection, including “Locator #1,” a stone lithograph with a cloud-swept sky. Wimer grew up and spent much of her life in the Plains states, which provided an experience of living with a sky that is cinematic. “I am charged emotionally and visually when I look at the sky,” she says.
Wimer is also showing some small prints made from carved linocuts as part of her recent experimentation with a 3D printed miniature press. She began making the prints last spring when she had to abandon her state-of-the-art studio with its large and heavy presses and demonstrate printmaking from home virtually after decades of hands-on teaching.
As Wimer said before beginning her spring term Zoom studio sessions nearly a year ago, “I remind my students that it is healthy to be making art during this time.”