G.R.E.A.T. Day captures final year of studio art

Despite the studio art department closing next semester, students created varied and engaging artwork that came together for Geneseo Recognizes Excellence, Achievement & Talent Day in the Lederer and Kinetic Galleries, with each space adopting a distinct feeling. Activities Commission Arts & Exhibits Coordinator junior Chelsea Butkowski has curated the G.R.E.A.T. Day show for the past two years, describing the process of putting the galleries together as both “interesting and difficult.” This year presented its own unique challenges.

“Remarkably, both of these shows had a lot black and white, so it was hard to find where the color works were going to be placed to balance the black and white works,” Butkowski said.

One intimate corner of the Lederer Gallery held self-portraits, wire cats and chameleons, a personal look at a shirt, landscapes and a cardboard sculpture. The sculpture, constructed by seniors Mathew Rhoney, Bryan Watson and Laura Golden, demands attention but maintains the intimacy of the gallery with its humble construction.

It invites you to look closer, if you want to. You can look at the label on one box and see that it used to hold frozen broccoli florets and in others you can see diagrams of foam trays.

Other works in the Lederer Gallery gave the viewer a look into the personal. “Lily,” a galvanized steel wire cat by Golden, embodies the way cats live in their own cat world with the piece’s lithe and accentuated spine.

The Kinetic Gallery lived up to its name, displaying pieces with active titles such as “Transformation,” “Transcendence” and “Eruption.”

Pieces utilizing a pointillism technique displayed and transcended the simple movements of brush strokes. Using only small dots to create different textures and shades, they made the movement ripple and flicker on the page.

In “Brushstroke Pointillism” by freshman Josh Abrahams, a bold, flowing line moves across the paper perpendicular to the major movement of the piece.

The theme “Untitled I” by sophomore Ursula Quinn ripples with various images. One can find any number of elements in its design: algae floating in the ocean, the ocean itself, a smooth and striated canyon or a jungle canopy.

“The Late, Great Monique,” an egg tempera by senior Lexi Hannah, hints at the idea of death that appeared in other works in the gallery like “Transformation” by senior Christine Kim and “Seng Im Ung” by freshman Laurel Linde. “The Late, Great Monique” sets the viewer’s mind wandering as it depicts a pale young woman in front of flora, then announces her death in the title.

“Transformation” by Kim uses black paper cutouts pasted onto white paper to depict a flower from a tree falling apart and becoming a skull. The beauty of the piece arises from the fact that the viewer can see the transformation going in the opposite direction.

Other works in the style of “Transformation” had subject matter that ranged from nonsensical – in the case of “From Ice Cream to Giraffe” by junior Bonnie Stathis – to disturbing metamorphoses: Aahuman hand grows webbing and a tail, turning into a cobra in junior Holly Birdsall’s “Untitled.”

After seeing such a great showing from the students, it’s hard not to think about the closing of the studio art department.

“Having the art exhibits on G.R.E.A.T Day is extremely beneficial and shows the liberal arts breadth of Geneseo,” Butkowski said. “If we aren’t able to have an exhibit next year, it will be a loss for the overall aesthetic of G.R.E.A.T. Day.”