Roslyn Heights, Long Island may be far from Geneseo, but that doesn’t make it any less of an inspiration to Geneseo Campus Activities Board Arts & Exhibits Coordinator Emma Belson. The childhood with special education and English double major has an artistic eye that reaches homeward in her own work, but outward in others’. The Long Island native—a sophomore here at Geneseo—has taken over the MacVittie College Union Kinetic Gallery this year and is determined to bring all students a bit of color, whether it’s local, regional or nationwide.
“I want [the Kinetic Gallery] to be colorful—not that art can’t be black and white and can’t still be beautiful,” Belson said. She instead referred to the many gray months that accompany Geneseo’s traditionally harsh winters as her motivation.
“If it was up to me, I’d probably have one of those artists come in and just repaint the whole gallery in one of their installations,” she said.
A former GCAB general member, Belson decided to put her passion for the arts to good use and run for the position of arts and exhibits coordinator. She began sketching in art classes long before her college years, however, developing an appreciation for her home and family that influenced the evolution of her style.
“One of the biggest things I usually try and get right—but I never do—is my house. I take a lot of inspiration from that because it’s my home and I just love it,” she said. “There’s a big green tree out front, and my dog playing or something.”
Transcendent of her creative drawing ability, Belson’s dorm room walls are adorned with delicate Barbie sketches by Robert Best, which give an elegant interpretation of the plastic figurine. “They always remind me of something … it brings back memories,” she said.
Belson finds the greatest connection with a different medium, however. Photography has given an additional lens through which she fully immerses herself in the versatility that art can offer.
Her soft-spoken nature perhaps enhances her skill behind the camera, quietly capturing landscapes as Monet—her favorite artist—would do with a paintbrush.
“If we were to go outside Sturges right now, I’d look for all the bright colored leaves,” she said. “It makes you so happy … it could just be an old building or a piece of granite or cement that cracked in a certain way that you like.”
This harmony between photography and architecture fascinates Belson. Her travels across Europe’s most paramount cities—from Paris to Barcelona—have only heightened this curiosity, camera clicking to catch Notre Dame or the Sagrada Familia.
“If I had the skills in math, I’d probably be an architect,” Belson said.
The position of arts and exhibits coordinator for GCAB is a responsibility as large as the famous structures Belson admires. She finds and contacts potential artists, drafts their contracts, organizes their exhibits, controls advertisement, executes the opening ceremonies—down to the refreshments—and cleans it all up afterword.
“I basically do everything,” she said. “One of the biggest things is finding the artist. They can either be student artists from campus or they can be someone that I pick out at random from Google, but I usually have an idea in mind of where I want to go.”
The gallery is currently showcasing Suzanne Anker’s collection, “Blue Eggs and Spam,” which incorporates biology into its aesthetic. Belson hoped to integrate the interests of Geneseo’s large population of biology majors in the exhibit, an achievement in her objective to inspire students across all disciplines.
“Art has a lot of influence on people. It’s a way for people to release tension,” she said. “So many people are worried about college students and their depression, how they are handling things, but art is a way of releasing that.”
Each exhibit runs for approximately four weeks. The Arc of Livingston-Wyoming—a not-for-profit organization servicing the developmentally disabled—will display photographs taken by the students it supports in the gallery beginning Nov. 15, according to Belson.
At the heart of campus in the Union’s center, this particular exhibition embodies Belson’s theme of accessibility, expression and inclusion.
“You look around, everything is a piece of art. But some things are popping out a little bit more than other things would,” she said. “I think when you have a chance to look at things, you should.”