Alumni exhibition emphasizes Geneseo art program success

“ABC: 3 Person Alumni Exhibition” opened in the Lockhart Gallery on March 29. The show features the work of three Geneseo alumni: Andy Smith ‘81, William Finewood ‘72 and Don Cicconi ‘78. The three artists work in different mediums, but all show the value of having arts programs at the college. (Ellayna Fredericks/Staff Photographer)

The newest exhibit at the Lockhart Gallery showcases the artwork of talented Geneseo alumni. “ABC: 3 Person Alumni Exhibition” features pieces from Andy Smith ‘81, William Finewood ‘72 and Don Cicconi ‘78. All of the artwork is presented together in the gallery, highlighting the different artistic styles and techniques that these Geneseo alumni have developed.

Finewood has ten pieces in the gallery, the most out of the three artists, which are mostly focused on nature and wildlife. From the exhibit, it is evident that Finewood works in two main mediums: graphite or colored pencil and paper sculpture. The works done in pencil are mostly landscape scenes, with plenty of depth created by skillful black and gray shading. The layers of space he creates give the impression that the scene stretches on for miles. In the front, there are often various animals and wildlife. 

What makes these pieces so stunning, however, is the amount of detail captured throughout the whole scene by Finewood—even as the landscape takes the eye further into the distance. It looks as though the viewer is there with the animals, observing them in their natural habitat, all without being seen. You could be on top of a mountain with the mountain goats, or crouching in a stream next to an elegant egret. 

The remainder of Finewood’s work is made of paper, which he crafts into figures that are framed and mounted on the wall. These pieces also have a sort of natural theme. One is made with strips of brown paper to make up the texture of a rooster’s feathers and another shows a woman in gardening clothes, holding a pot of flowers. 

The one piece of Finewood’s that stands out is “PlayMeArt.” This work uses paper and other media to portray a woman playing a guitar, which seems to be made of a painter’s palette. It’s a beautiful representation of unity within the arts and is a perfect way to reflect the coming together of these three artists in one show.

Smith also focuses on aspects of nature in his work. The only artist of the three to provide a formal artist’s statement, he acknowledges that the world is becoming smaller and smaller in this technological era. The result is an increased exposure to many more images of human despair and ugliness. 

As increasingly global citizens, we want to be aware of what’s happening in the world, but whether or not we are looking for the information, we are often confronted with negative global events. As a response to this, Smith photographs a female figure pictured in beautiful natural landscapes. He believes that these photos are reminders that even in a world that seems so full of human ugliness, humans can share and enjoy the beauty of the earth and each other.

Cicconi has four pieces in the exhibition, but they’re notable for their stylistic differences when compared to the other works. Instead of scenes or landscapes, Cicconi uses Asian characters or geometric shapes as the subjects of his art. He doesn’t provide a specific artist’s statement like Smith.

“[I do] not attempt to make any kind of formal statement with my art … it is up to the viewer to interpret the images through their own experiences,” Cicconi said.  

This statement is intriguing because some of his pieces include languages that most viewers in the United States don’t understand. In effect, his acknowledgement of having no artist’s statement is a statement in and of itself.

All in all, the exhibition shows us how Geneseo students have developed their talents over time, making it even more important to realize that these types of exhibits may start to become fewer as time goes on. 

While it’s true that you don’t need a degree to make art, keep in mind that these are alumni of the Geneseo studio art department––a department that no longer exists. 

This exhibit is not only proof that Geneseo does have the potential to cultivate its students’ talents in launching them toward successful artistic careers—it also serves as a reminder that unless Geneseo supports students’ arts, both the students and the community will end up missing out.