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Keuka College News

Student Artists Find Home in Hegeman

The Lightner Gallery in Lightner Library annually showcases the talents of visiting and student artists.

But now, students pursing the visual and verbal art major have their own place to display their work: the fourth floor of Hegeman Hall, home to the Division of Humanities and Fine Arts.

Currently featured is the photography of sophomore Courtney French.

“She was selected because she has a true passion for photography and she turned in a strong portfolio of successful images,” said Melissa Newcomb assistant professor of art. “Courtney used black and white film and a dark room for the photos.”

According to Newcomb, the idea for the student art display in Hegeman came from Mike McKenzie, associate professor of philosophy and religion.

“The fourth floor of Hegeman gives an experiential look at the humanities majors,” said McKenzie. “We have photos and other exhibits describing what we do, but not for visual and verbal art. I wanted it to make it obvious who we are and what we do.”

So, he suggested to Newcomb a place on the fourth floor of Hegeman for students in the visual and verbal art major to showcase their art. The student art display will be fluid, and Newcomb plans to have more student solo shows and highlight a variety of art work from different classes. She plans to hang another show later in the semester, and one or two more over the summer.

“It is nice that the students now have a place to display their art, and is a good addition to the major,” said Newcomb.

McKenzie agrees.

“I think the project turned out nice and it’s good to see the students looking at it, too,” he said.

“I have had students and faculty come up to me with positive responses to the work, including people I don’t know,” said French, a visual and verbal art major from Massena. “I think it’s a great thing to have here at school. With our art department being so small, getting recognition from peers is inspiring.”

For French, a defender on the Storm lacrosse team, showing off student work “speaks to students more than a master’s art work. People who know the student artist can understand his or her work better and really understand who they are.”

French enjoys photography “because you can manipulate so many things with just a click of a button or a turn of a knob.”

“The photos on display were mostly taken in Penn Yan, and I always thought this town was so boring,” she said, “until one day I hopped in my car and went exploring. There are a lot of places and things forgotten around this small, quiet town that are good for photography.”

And while photography is a favorite of hers, French said pencil and airbrushing “are by far my favorite media. But I enjoy all three of these mediums because they are so dramatic with the contrast of lights and darks.”

French takes inspiration from her favorite artist, Pablo Picasso, but “my work is very different from his, and no one has a style close to his. It’s amazing how, with such little detail, he created masterpieces.”

French hopes to work for, and travel with, National Geographic or become a fashion photographer after graduation in 2013.

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