Art Scholars employ contrasting inspirations

The Art Scholars Exhibition currently showcased in Brodie Hall's Bridge Gallery features the work of seniors Michael Kulik and Aileen Connorton, recipients of School of the Arts scholarships that were nominated and voted upon by faculty.

Kulik, who works primarily off of reality, is showing a variety of landscapes and figures created with oil paint, egg tempera, pencil and watercolor. Through stylization and unexpected color schemes, Kulik gives new life to ordinary scenes.

"I work from life primarily because I like to capture what I see more directly, things that I find beautiful to begin with," he said. He said that he starts out with an idea in his head, such as a still life, replicates that idea and then paints or draws it. It is this attention and passion for the subject matter that lends a strong sense of mood to his work.

For his senior thesis exhibition, Kulik said he plans to create larger-than-life family portraits measuring roughly 8 feet by 4 feet in size. The portraits will be drawn in charcoal with pastel components to emphasize a distinguishing feature of each family member. The colored features will bring to life Kulik's feelings towards deceased family members and the personality - or "living color" - of the living members.

Kulik said the portraits of Geneseo professor Tom MacPherson and artist Robert Mapplethorpe inspired this idea. Kulik saw Mapplethorpe's work in the Academia in Florence, Italy juxtaposing Michelangelo's "David;" he said the work sparked his idea to capture the monumentality of sculpture within a 2-D work.

Connorton is showing a variety of oil paint, pastel and mixed media pieces; she said her subject matter is derived primarily from her own imagination. Her wild and unique imagery often seems to be exploding outward to the edges of the canvas, especially in the case of "Untitled" and "The Vain Jackdu."

Connorton described her style as energetic, spastic and strongly influenced by her emotions. She said she is considering art therapy as a career since it balances psychology with the emotional and therapeutic act of creating artwork.

"Whenever I go to a museum, I always have this urge to touch the artwork," Connorton said. A work's tactile quality, she explained, is a definite point of interest and an interesting addition to a 2-D piece.

Connorton said her goal for her senior thesis exhibition is to continue developing her style while focusing on balancing splotches of color and texture to avoid being perceived as messy.

The Art Scholars Exhibition is open from Sept. 14 to Oct. 25. The Bridge Gallery is open from 8 a.m. to midnight on weekdays and from 10 a.m. to midnight on weekends.