Prized student work on display in Kinetic Gallery

Geneseo’s student-run Kinetic Gallery hosted its bi-annual Geneseo Recognizing Excellence, Achievement & Talent Battle of the Artists at the beginning of the summer, in which contestants displayed up to three pieces each of art done in any medium. Each artist was reviewed by a panel of judges to win a cash prize and to receive the opportunity to display their work in an exhibit in the gallery at the start of the fall 2016 semester. Student submissions ranging from drawings, to sculptures, to photography filled the gallery walls.

The two winning artists—sociology major sophomore Megan Samantha Schwartz and political science major sophomore Kylie Griffith—unveiled their exhibits, which will remain in the gallery until October 2.

The gallery is divided in half between the two winners, each artist covering an entire wall with their work. Schwartz occupies the left side of the gallery with bright pops of color and funky patterns, while Griffith’s wall displays dark, bold charcoal portraits and striking scenes.

Schwartz’s exhibition, titled “My Escapes,” showcases pieces that are meant to serve as a window into her mind. Flowing lines and colors depict a sort of artistic wonderland, and curious images and abstract patterns take the viewer away from reality for a moment. Viewers get to escape with her into a world reimagined.

A portion of Schwartz’s collection is mixed media art, using two or more different mediums or materials in one work. One piece in particular is done in pencil, but parts of the surface are covered in mosaic-style glass tiles. This layering creates an even greater sense of depth and novelty into her “escape.”

On the other half of the gallery, Griffith’s collection titled “What She Taught Me” is dominated by stunning portraits done in charcoal. The wall is filled with eyes and faces that draw the viewer in, leaving them with unanswered questions like, “Who is she?” or “Why does that man look so sad?” It’s these questions and their ability to make a person wonder that gives Griffith’s pieces such power.

One especially impactful piece is a portrait of an elderly individual with a weathered, wrinkled face and a hand resting on their mouth, as if deep in thought. This piece, like most of the others, is all done in charcoal, except for one feature—the eyes. These are lightly stained with a cool shade of blue—the only color in the piece.

These exhibitions—each with their own unique styles and mediums—are telling of the artistic spirit of the Geneseo student body. Being able to view such beautiful student art in a student-run gallery provokes a profound sense of unity and support within the community.

This gallery exhibition is not without flaws, however. The talent of the artists is obvious, but there also seems to be something missing from the curation of the exhibits. While the art is captivating enough to stand on its own, there isn’t any background information provided about the artists or any descriptions on the pieces. Labeling a piece of art with its name, the medium, the materials used and the date it was created can make an exhibition more well-rounded and complete. It also solidifies a connection between the artist, artwork and viewer. Some may find this information distracting, but descriptive details can also provide more support and cohesiveness for a collection.

Regardless, the exhibit as a whole is a success. In a corner of the gallery, there is an open book where visitors can leave their thoughts and comments about the art. Notes such as “inspiring” and “beautiful pieces, wonderful artists” fills a page for the artists and visitors to reflect upon.

The mission of the Kinetic Gallery is to team up with artists to foster an appreciation for the arts among students, to create an open space for them to freely display and to discuss artistic concepts. With such positive responses from visitors, that mission is well on its way to becoming a reality.