On Friday, Feb. 23, the College Union's Kinetic Gallery saw its doors open up, spilling in a total of 59 eager onlookers like so much fresh paint. On display was the work of artist Betsy Phillips, a Pittsford photographer handpicked by Activities Commission Arts and Exhibits Coordinator Justine Meccio.
The exhibit is called Altered States, and evaluates physically the comprehensive effects of time on man-made surfaces. It was an event like so many others for Meccio, who is the sole authority and endorser of all the Kinetic Gallery's exhibitions. But she'd rather not think of Phillips as just one of many artists whose' proverbial easels grace the gallery's walls; Altered States is a unique series of artistic experimentations in its own right.
Meccio is in her second semester as AC's arts and exhibits coordinator, and has already displayed a great variety of art, the most successful exhibit being last semester's arrangement of Matthew Keeney's photographs. On its first day 75 people visited the exhibit. It's an onerous job but one that Meccio embraces wholeheartedly. Previously working for a collections management internship at the Lockhart Gallery, Meccio was presented with the opportunity by one of her professors. She enthusiastically applied and was elected soon after, replacing previous coordinator Sarah Wolfsont.
"There's a new dynamic going on," said Meccio, referring to the format change of the senior art shows from individual displays to group work. "That's freed up my programming schedule, which has allowed my position to bring in outside professional artists." Phillips is one of these artists, and her work in the latest gallery is quite unique. It consists of a collection of photographs that have the visual element of painted images as a thematic link. None of the pieces are paintings; they are photographs that have been chosen scrupulously by the artist to convey the world's natural resemblance to paint on a canvas. These images, though indiscernible in their finished form, include boat hulls, boxcars, walls and abandoned cars. Phillips explained, "This work explores and isolates these relationships in which images have been 'created' by a series of events and discovered by an eye attuned not only to the beauty of the compositional relationships, but to the beauty of the process."
Phillips is a Rochester native who works, aside from as an artist and photographer, as a caseworker for Monroe County's Child Protective Services. She has an educational background in art and religion with a few photography courses on the side. She now co-owns the Image City Photography Gallery, where she hopes to "not only share my vision and joy in photography, but assist others in sharing their joy and vision as well."
Meccio was drawn to the idea the instant she discovered it. "What attracted me to her work was that I really liked the idea behind it," she explained. "I try to look for work that has a good concept behind its presentation, something that will be interesting and engaging to the student body." While many of the images have been altered using Photoshop, Phillips explains that adjustments were done only to color and color balance corrections; otherwise, the images in the gallery show objects in their original state.