Student curator organizes identity-central exhibition

 “Old Faces, New Perspectives” opened on Tuesday Jan. 31 in the MacVittie College Union’s Kinetic Gallery. The exhibit is part of senior Maya Lucyshyn’s Edgar Fellows Program project and calls on artists to creatively interpret the word “identity.” (Ellayna Fredericks/Staff Photographer)

“Old Faces, New Perspectives” opened on Tuesday Jan. 31 in the MacVittie College Union’s Kinetic Gallery. The exhibit is part of senior Maya Lucyshyn’s Edgar Fellows Program project and calls on artists to creatively interpret the word “identity.” (Ellayna Fredericks/Staff Photographer)

The MacVittie College Union’s Kinetic Gallery is hosting a new and eye-opening exhibit titled, “Old Faces, New Perspectives.” The exhibit—which opened on Tuesday Jan. 31—explores the various identities on the Geneseo campus, as artistically driven students share their creative interpretation of the word “identity.”

The student artists utilized various mediums within their pieces ranging from paint, watercolors, pen and ink, photography and even wood. Each piece, however different, portrayed both the definition of “identity” and the artist’s own individualistic identity. 

The exhibition was spearheaded by international relations and art history double major senior Maya Lucyshyn as part of her Edgar Fellows Program project. The death of the college’s studio art department is what inspired Lucyshyn to reach out to student creators who do not regularly get the opportunity to express themselves through the academic courses.

“I know that if I was an artistically inclined person it would upset me a little bit because I don’t have a place to professionally hold my skill,” Lucyshyn said.

In addition to sharing their work for their peers to appreciate, she finds it important for artists—let alone anyone—to express their identity. 

“I think that everyone has a piece or could make a piece based on identity, so it’s kind of a universal thing,” Lucyshyn said. “But I also knew that it would draw out all the artists’ unique characteristics and backgrounds.” 

Not only does the exhibit foster student creativity, but it also serves as a way for other students to learn about one another.

“This exhibit gives you a way to see more to the people you see around campus,” Lucyshyn said. “It gives the artists’ peers a chance to learn another layer of [each artist] and realize that everyone on campus has this hidden personality that you wouldn’t notice by looking at them.”

One such artist is mathematics major sophomore Jacob Yatsko. Yatsko’s “Self-Portrait” appears to be a typical self-portrait except for one glaring difference—it is plastered with bright pink post-it notes.

Yatsko explained that the base layer of his painting—the actual painting itself—represents his true identity, while the post-its are what others perceive his identity to be. “If you hear [those perceptions] enough times … sometimes your true personality gets overshadowed,” he said. Yatsko said he believes that we should all be “willing to explore more about someone,” rather than settle for our initial impressions of them. 

Meanwhile, anthropology major junior Karryann Kohlbeck’s “Untitled” depicts an eye because “everything you see is representational of who you are,” and communication major junior Michelle Soria’s “I Stand Proud of Who I Am” depicts a girl standing on a podium in front of the New York City skyline, which embodies both her cultural and spiritual identity.

Alongside Lucyshyn in planning and organizing the event were Geneseo Campus Activities Board Arts & Exhibits Coordinator sophomore Emma Belson and Lucyshyn’s advisor, Department of Art History Chair and professor of art history Lynette Bosch. Both were paramount in helping create the exhibit that is seen in the Kinetic Gallery today.

“Old Faces, New Perspectives” also tackled today’s global issues. The group of student artists represents a large variety of cultural identities, including North American, Middle-Eastern, Southeast Asian and Indian individuals, as well as LGBTQ+ individuals. 

“These are perspectives that we are not used to seeing on the Geneseo campus or in the art world in general,” Lucyshyn said.

Lucyshyn’s exhibition works to fill the representation gap felt here in Geneseo. The exhibit will be on view until Feb. 14.