Senior Minerva Campbell and School of the Arts professor Doug Anderson organized an event on Friday evening at Muddy Waters Coffee House to bring further awareness to the goals of Save SUNY Geneseo Art, a group dedicated to preserving Geneseo's studio art program following deactivation by the college.
"I can't imagine art not being in my [young] daughter's education," said Sharri Anderson, Doug Anderson's wife. In an attempt to combat this possibility, Anderson and Campbell began planning the event in December, not long after the college announced a decision to deactivate the studio art program in order to realize long-term structural savings.
"It's something to make people aware and reinvigorate them, to bring back the awareness about the budget cuts," Campbell said.
Though Campbell and Anderson were the spokespeople of the night, a sense of community, camaraderie and support pervaded the evening. "I'm very active in the community as a whole," Anderson said, "and was in a good position to bridge groups."
The night was both an art show and a grassroots protest for all the students, faculty and local residents who provided donations and demonstrated support for the cause.
"People actually care [about the arts]; the community supports us and we support them. Art creates a community like that," Campbell said.
Muddy Waters' management graciously agreed to host the event and local musicians and students offered entertainment. The musical selections, spanning bluegrass and jazz, created a soothing, encouraging ambiance over which people talked, laughed and enjoyed the event's art show, "Empty Frames."
Filled with pieces from faculty and students alike, Muddy Waters' walls were transformed into a showcase for Geneseo's artistry and skill. Artwork included beautiful contributions from Campbell and Anderson as well as senior Alex Spinello, juniors Katie Peterson and Anjali Bermain and professors Tom McPherson and Patrice Case.
The beauty and diversity of the artwork was highlighted by the blank frames and black felt that created empty space between the pieces. Campbell explained that the striking contrast was meant to act as a "visual representation of what we'll be losing."
Determined to promote their cause, those involved with Save SUNY Geneseo Art made sure that the night's message of protest was loud and clear. The group garnered publicity through an $800 anonymous donation by distributing free buttons and T-shirts that several of Anderson's friends gave away throughout the night. Speeches were made in testament to the arts' future place in the Geneseo community, and visitors could sign a petition addressed to Sen. Patrick Gallivan, Geneseo's representative in the New York State Senate.
"All we can do is our best," Anderson said, acknowledging the uncertainty of the program's future. "We can contribute, [and] do something."
"I believe there is a possibility art can exist at some form at the college," Anderson said.
There will be further opportunities to show support for the arts as the group plans to hold more events like this one in the future. All artwork will remain on display within Muddy Waters until March.