Geneseo's Unexpected Artists: Professor of geography Irina "Ren" Vasiliev creates cartographic collages

Professor of geography Irina “Ren” Vasiliev does more than teach. She is also an artist, specializing in photography and collage. Vasiliev recently opened an exhibition, “The Sublime and the Ordinary,” in Milne Library. “I'd like Geneseo students to see that we professors are multidimensional,” she said.

Vasiliev's photographs are of things she has seen because she said wants people to see the world from her perspective. These photographs remain untitled.

“[Students] can come with whatever interpretation they want of the photographs,” Vasiliev said.

Unlike her photographs, Vasiliev's collages have titles to shed light on their deeper meaning. She said that each one is inspired by an emotion or idea.

Vasiliev incorporates feathers, cloth, paint and some stitching, among other materials, into her collages.

Because she also works in cartography, one can spot maps in some of her collages.

“Maps have a language of their own, which is useful as a design element and as a way to evoke the emotions I want my viewers to have when looking at my art,” Vasiliev said.

Aside from creating photographs and collages, she is also a printmaker, cutting linoleum blocks and creating letterpress prints.

Although Vasiliev said she loves her position as a geography professor and working with students, working on her art is “a great other job.” It is her outlet to express herself, and she “cannot live without expression,” she said.

Vasiliev added that she had “always been a creative child.” From there, she studied photography at SUNY Oswego and began seriously working on collages about 10 years ago. Since then, she has exhibited her work in a variety of different locations including a previous Kinetic Gallery exhibit titled “Vicious Scissors.”

Vasiliev's exhibit is on display in Milne Library until Oct. 31. The library will also host an exhibit reception for “The Sublime and the Ordinary” on Sept. 19 from 5-7:30 p.m.