Art History Association debuts transition-centered exhibition

After a long vacancy, the Brodie Bridge Gallery seems to have been given a new life. The gallery debuted an intriguing new exhibition on Wednesday Dec. 7—their second of the semester—entitled “Transitions.” The goal of the exhibit is to explore how different artists connect to the word “transition.” Showing a variety of mediums, from painting to photography, the exhibit is concerned with promoting the artistic talents of students and faculty.

Student-run group Art History Association—under visiting assistant professor of art history and newly appointed coordinator of the museum studies minor Alla Myzelev—brought the exhibit to Geneseo.

The opening of the exhibition drew in many attendees, as the artists and viewers discussed the different interpretations of the word “transition.” Some works included biology major senior Nicole Forti’s acrylic painting “The Two Faces of One World” and biology major sophomore Stephanie Podguski’s four small paintings entitled “Change.” Forti’s painting depicts the world transitioning from farmland to an industrialized factory, while Podguski’s portrays her experience in transferring to Geneseo.

“It was very fulfilling to see how many takes on the word students had and through what mediums they were able to express that,” French major senior and AHA co-president Jacqueline Christensen said.

Like her fellow AHA e-board members, Christensen presented her own work in the gallery, which included a portrait of Jewish conductor Rafael Schächter. Schächter is a World War II concentration camp inmate who brought music to those experiencing the worst of what the world has to offer.

In watercolor and ink, Christensen translated a portrait of Schächter and a sketch of camp inmates into her own piece.

“It’s a very dark scene, but it brings to light the amazing musical performances that they had,” she said.

The exhibit is in conjunction with a pop-up exhibit of professor of art Thomas MacPherson’s work from his Crossing Cultures: A Sicilian and American Family in Western New York. Milne Library Publishing published the book—a graphic narrative of the contrasting Scottish and Sicilian sides of his family—in September.

MacPherson—the college’s only remaining art professor and valued immigration scholar—had paintings featured in the exhibit, including “The Conversion of Great Aunt Catherine” and “The Wedding of Mary and Tony,” all of which are of or inspired by his ancestors and reflect his Sicilian-Scottish heritage. MacPherson’s work, which shows his ancestor’s assimilation to a new country and culture, is an excellent addition to the “Transitions” exhibit.

MacPherson and his watercolor class are vital to the survival of the arts on campus, according to Christensen.

“I really hope that we are able to encourage self-expression through visual art, despite the lack of programs that we have here at Geneseo,” she said.

Department Chair and professor of art history Lynette Bosch has similar hopes for this exhibit and for her art history and museum studies students. As the first exhibition that the AHA has coordinated, “Transitions” not only promotes student art, but also gives our museum studies students a chance to put their learned skills to action.

“[The exhibit] also gives hands on experience in terms of setting up exhibitions, and essentially to do this they went through all of the museum studies steps,” Bosch said. “It’s literally the curriculum in action.”

Bosch hopes to promote the idea that—though limited—the art program at Geneseo can still make waves.

“This really is a perfect event to show that we have a presence that is a campus presence, but also goes beyond the campus with MacPherson’s accomplishments,” Bosch said.

“If we could bring the entire art community together, it would reinforce a strength that we could share together,” Christensen said. “Through that, people might be more encouraged to not only express themselves, but to spread the idea that we still do have an art community on campus and it is still growing.”