Keuka College Associate Professor of Chemistry Andrew Robak has used fine art and photography to educate others about the intricacies of science, and his latest student collaboration showcases another new perspective.
In 2012, Robak collaborated with Kat Andonucci ’13 to produce “The Art of Chemistry,” a unique exhibit featuring chemical experiments often photographed by Andonucci at slow speeds or in low light to highlight the array of colors, shapes and textures within a variety of chemical solutions, reactions and even optical illusions. This time, Robak’s collaboration with biology major Phil Longyear ’14, a Rushville resident, explores the variety of natural elements from the Periodic Table found in and around the Penn Yan area.
Together, the duo visited manufacturing plants like Abtex and Ferro, artisan studios and even retail shops such as Pinckney’s Ace Hardware to document in photographs the elements in their natural or manufactured forms. The resulting images —with each name, two-letter scientific abbreviation, and a brief description of its characteristics and uses —are now on display in many storefront windows along Main Street, Penn Yan, effectively turning Main Street itself into an art gallery for “Elements of the Finger Lakes.”
Nearly 60 elements of the Periodic Table’s full 118 elements were found; the full collection of images can also be viewed at the Lightner Gallery at Lightner Library on the campus of Keuka College. An opening reception will be held from 4 – 5:30 p.m. at Milly’s Pantry, 19 Main Street on Wednesday, June 10. Milly’s is one of many local shops featuring works from the “Elements of the Finger Lakes.” The exhibit will continue through July on Main Street and through August on campus.
“The project really helps people understand what chemical elements are, where they come from, how we use them and where they are [found],” Longyear said. “I like the fact that it will bring science to the masses in a way that they can understand.”
According to Longyear, the “field trips” he and Robak took last fall to companies like Ferro or Coach and Equipment proved how common many of the elements truly are. Ferro, the former Transition Element Company (TransElCo), manufactures an array of pigments, powders used to make computing materials, polishing applications for lenses, polymers, plastics and more. Coach and Equipment produces small to mid-size transit buses using elements including lead (Pb), Fluorine (F), lithium (Li) and argon (Ar) in its engineering process.
At Ferro, workers take basic elements like carbon (C), titanium, (Ti) and tungsten (W), and refine them for an industrial use. So the up-close-and-personal views offered at Ferro for the exhibit educate participants beyond just a logo or company tagline, Longyear said.
“This is more than the sign on the front and [the product] that comes out the door. This is what’s in-between and that was really interesting,” he described.
According to Robak, a project such as this serves to merge science with the community. Not only will participants learn a little more about chemistry, but they’ll learn more about the community where they live and work too.
“The Periodic Table can be hard to relate to … but in its simplest sense, it’s a list of the essence of every material that we can touch, see or interact with in our daily lives,” Robak said, adding that many people may not realize just how many elements could be in their own homes, too.
“This project would not have happened without those willing to let us ask questions, give tours or shoot photography inside their businesses,” Robak said, noting that many company staffers actively tried to find elements in use or suggest others for Robak and Longyear to document. Community participation for the exhibit has also been high, Robak added, thanking the numerous business owners along Main Street who agreed to display the poster-size images in storefront windows or indoor displays. A trifold brochure will also be available at many participating businesses so pedestrians can learn about the project as they stroll Main Street.
Artisans such as Pete Knickerbocker of Spider’s Nest Pottery or Keuka College Professor Emeritus Dexter Benedict of Fireworks Foundry were also part of the exploration. Benedict sculpts works of bronze, using oxygen (O), aluminum (Al) and lots of copper (Cu) in the process. Meanwhile, Knickerbocker makes use of elements including cobalt (Co), iron (Fe), chromium (Cr), and also copper (Cu) in his pottery.
“I had no idea that a potter could tailor and design not only his or her own glazes, but the clay itself, and (Pete) was able to manipulate those elements in order to set himself apart in his field,” Longyear described.
While Longyear served as primary photographer, a few elements, such as hydrogen, posed a challenge to shoot because they can only be seen when reacting with another element, he said. In those cases, it was a challenge to “tell the story,” he said.
But Mother Nature also offered a few elements as well, which the duo incorporated into the project, including images of bones for calcium, the night sky (space) for hydrogen, and a sunset at Montezuma Wildlife Refuge to represent helium, Longyear explained.
“Every day we use elements from the earth. You can look at the Periodic Table and see a number and a name, but if you really dig into it, it’s really cool,” Longyear said.
Melissa Newcomb, assistant professor of art at Keuka College, has added to her growing portfolio of public and commissioned works, and can now boast the 2015 Fact Book cover for Yates County, distributed by the Chronicle-Express/Ad-Viser newspaper.
According to Gwen Chamberlain, editor of the Chronicle-Express, each year the newspaper tries to utilize the cover of the Fact Book to highlight an element of life in Yates County and this year the editorial team wanted to shine a light on the arts and Yates County artists. However, the publication was nearing deadline without a work to grace the cover.
Enter Karen Morris, the paper’s publisher, who knew Newcomb through previous work together on the Keuka Arts Festival steering committee. Morris mentioned a mixed media of Newcomb’s the committee had seen during the process of selecting art for the Festival’s annual poster. It just so happened Morris still had a copy of Newcomb’s work when she and Chamberlain met for another discussion on the Fact Book cover.
“It was really kind of magical how it all came together within a matter of minutes,” Chamberlain described.
It’s not the first major piece which Newcomb has had showcased to the public.
In 2011, the Marathon Engineering company in Rochester commissioned her for a 6-foot by 8-foot pen-and-ink mural of the Frederick Douglass – Susan B. Anthony Memorial Bridge along the Genesee River on Route 490 in Rochester. The enormous work was completed in 2012 and is on display at the company’s offices.
In 2014, Newcomb was asked to illustrate several pages of a historic novel written by Timothy Munn of Shortsville, Newcomb’s hometown. Published by Lightning Press of New Jersey, the book came out in print in April 2014 and features both a cover designed by Newcomb as well as numerous line drawings throughout the chapters. The author commissioned Newcomb to illustrate historical retellings of the days when baseball and the railroad intersected at the historic Roundhouse (a railroad mechanism which moves engines via a circular turntable) in Shortsville. According to Newcomb, Round House 9 is the third book on shelves containing her drawings or photographs.
Munn previously commissioned her in 2004 for illustrations and in 2008 for photography on projects related to local history, published by the Ontario County Historical Society in Canandaigua.
According to Dr. Jennie Joiner, division chair of the Division of Humanities and Fine Arts and associate professor of English, commissioned works for an artist are the equal of publications or conference presentations in other academic disciplines.
“The goal of faculty is to be active in innovation—new ideas or new ways of seeing, being, or interacting with the world. Within the cover, Professor Newcomb created an artistic frame and visual representation of the beauty of Yates County, and she literally frames the landscape with artistic tools and other artifacts (the flowers, bottle, coffee mug) from the area. Thus, her artwork gives us a new way of seeing Yates County.
“Additionally, Professor Newcomb is modeling the way in which artists continually have to seek out and create opportunities to both showcase their work and create an audience for their art,” Joiner added. “Her work and active practice of her art further demonstrates to students the tangibility of the artistic process as a profession. She doesn’t just teach, she creates!”
Another potential commission may be in the works as officials at UR Medicine’s Thompson Health recently met with Newcomb to explore a possible commission for artwork to decorate select locations within its Canandaigua hospital. However, such a project is still in exploratory stages and nothing official has yet been decided.
For her part, Newcomb said she is excited when interest is taken in her personal art creations, and she is thrilled for new opportunities to share her art with others in the community.
“Commissions involving murals, or even publications open so many doors to networking with new people whom I may have not met otherwise. This allows for relationships to be built in different areas! Each opportunity happened because these people believed in me and supported my development as a professional artist.”
“With these opportunities, I’ve also been able to grow as an educator, since the variety of artistic practices enables me to bring a knowledge of skill sets to prepare students for the business side in a world hungry for art and design.”
“My advice to art students and graduates in the field is to use your creative thinking skills, be uncomfortable, and face your fears,” she said. ”If you can do that, then you can achieve anything.”
Come next Monday, Robert Lonie will get a taste of the Hollywood experience when he attends the official screening of a documentary featuring his success on the Keuka College campus, at a special film event on inclusive college learning programs at Rochester’s Little Theatre. It’s the latest achievement in a remarkable life that has seen him become an inspiring advocate for inclusive education.
The “movie premiere” of a 7.5-minute micro-film documentary on Lonie himself will be part of a three-film screening that starts at 6:30 p.m. at the Little Theatre, 240 East Avenue, Rochester on Monday, May 4. Two other short films on inclusive learning will be screened and Lonie will also be part of a panel discussion after the showings. (Screenings take place in Theater 5, Winthrop Street entrance.)
“This is big. Robert’s going to have a limo and all that. He’s all excited,” said John Luppino, director of the DRIVE program, which stands for Diversity, Responsibility, Inclusion, Vision and Experiential Learning.
DRIVE is a collaboration between Keuka College, the Yates County ARC, and the Penn Yan Central School District. In the program, Keuka College students serve as peer mentors to young adults with intellectual disabilities as they assimilate into the college environment and explore their personal goals. Upon completion, DRIVE students receive an Award of Higher Education at Commencement. Lonie graduated from DRIVE in 2013.
He was the first DRIVE student to live in a campus dorm, and during his course of study, provided clerical support part-time in a number of offices across campus. Since finishing the DRIVE program, Lonie still rotates weekly to those offices, and has continued to volunteer in DRIVE classrooms, Luppino said. He also serves as an advocate for the DRIVE program, and for inclusive learning on other college campuses. In 2013, he received the New York State ARC (NYSARC) Self-Advocate award for his leadership and personal growth and for positively influencing the lives of others.
“Robert’s vision is just amazing. He’s always about five years ahead of us with his thoughts and where he’s going—lots of self-direction,” Luppino said, describing how Lonie and his mother Cheryl Lonie, were living in the Elmira area when they first saw a news article about the DRIVE program. Soon after, the two moved to the Penn Yan area so Robert could attend.
“His film is so great because it covers all the things we know about Robert and all the aspects [of what makes our DRIVE program successful],” Luppino said, referring to Lonie’s micro-film, part of “The Opportunity Project,” created by the Institute for Innovative Transition at the University of Rochester’s Warner School of Education, with funding from the Golisano Foundation.
According to Luppino, Lonie was involved in the decision-making of how his documentary would be crafted, chose each of the people who would be interviewed, and made the decision not to speak himself until the end of the film.
“It’s very telling about what he’s done here,” Luppino explained, adding that Robert is something of a celebrity on campus, because “everybody knows Robert and Robert knows everybody. Robert’s always wanted to go to Hollywood and do this kind of thing. That’s one of his dreams.”
A second micro-film documentary features the personal success of Monroe Community College student Cori Piels, and the two films on Lonie and Piels will be paired Monday with the 25-minute national film “Rethinking College.” Produced by Think College, “Rethinking College” showcases students with intellectual disabilities attending inclusive programs at campuses across the nation and the success stories emerging there and here at home.
A discussion panel, moderated by Martha Mock, an associate professor who directs the Institute for Innovative Transition at the Warner School, follows the screenings and will include Lonie, Piels, Meg Grigal, co-director of Think College and Dr. David Basinger, chief academic officer at Roberts Wesleyan College. The discussion is intended to provide insight into the positive impact and outcomes that access to higher education provides for students with intellectual disabilities. The film screenings and discussion are part of the “Move to Include,” initiative, a collaboration of WXXI and the Golisano Foundation.
While the call for increased inclusion of students with intellectual disabilities may have yet to gain concerted traction nationwide, Keuka College has been ahead of the curve with its DRIVE program.
“I stress to my students that although inclusion is our norm, what we take for granted here is not necessarily the norm all over,” said Assistant Professor of Education Alice Harnischfeger, who teaches two Keuka College courses requiring education majors to log eight to 15 hours in service to DRVIE students on campus or with the intellectually disabled at local ARC sites. At the end of each course, a written reflection is required.
“Numerous students report that while they were worried about logging enough hours in the beginning, by the end they wanted to put in more,” she described, adding that many continue working as DRIVE mentors after their time in the class has ended.
“I try to teach them that they will take their inclusive-mindedness out to the community,” Harnischfeger said.
Affection for Lonie runs deep in Strong Hall, where the Division of Education is housed.
“Robert’s always over here and he feels like a part of our building. Everyone on campus knows him. So we’re excited about this,” she added.
To that end, the Division of Education is sponsoring a bus to Rochester Monday and thus far, Harnischfeger said she’s heard from 22 interested faculty and students eager to cheer and support Lonie at his film premiere. Luppino also expects his staff and others to attend as well.
Each film shown as part of the “Move to Include” screening will be open captioned and a sign language interpreter will be provided for the discussion. For questions about the event, please contact the Institute for Innovative Transition at 585-275-2454 or email firstname.lastname@example.org. To find each of the three films online, search the Institute for Innovative Transition’s YouTube channel. For more information on the Institute itself, visit nytransition.org
When you combine a train, a birthday party, and a cast of characters who may or may not help you on your journey into the unknown, you get The Charnal House Trilogy, the latest video game from Owl Cave Games.
And the trilogy, comprised of Inhale, Sepulchure, and Exhale, has a Keuka College connection. Kelsey R. Marquart ’12 is a voice actor in two of the games, Inhale and Exhale. In Inhale, Marquart portrays the answering machine of the main character, Alex. For Exhale, she voices Carli, a minor villain.
“I like playing video games and villains, so this was a great way to combine some of my interests,” said Marquart. “I always wanted to be a voice actor in some way. A couple of years ago, I took a one-night voice-acting class at Cayuga Community College, and I was able to put what I learned into the games.”
She also credits Mark Wenderlich, professor of theatre, for boosting her aplomb and encouraging her as she was active in the College’s theatrical productions.
“While I was the stage manager for most of the plays, I helped with stage readings, was in a couple of on-campus movies, performed in one Keuka College production, and was in a play at Auburn Community Theatre,” said Marquart. “Mark gave me the confidence to get on stage—he’s amazing.”
And she can also thank a popular form of social media for helping her land her first voice-acting roles.
“I became friends with the game developer, Ashton Raze, after following her on Twitter,” said Marquart, who recorded her lines via her computer’s webcam. “She released Sepulchre first as a free stand-alone game in September 2013 and then the trilogy as a whole was recently released. She asked if I would voice characters in Inhale and Exhale. I received the script and read the whole thing so that I could figure out how to record my lines.”
For example, for the answering machine, Marquart tried to get the “human-ness” out of her voice. Marquart described Carli like a character out of Mean Girls.
According to Marquart, “the games are point-and-click style adventure games, in the same vein as King’s Quest and Monkey Island. The art is also in the same style.”
“The games are interactive horror-mystery and players must figure out the nature of the world in the game,” said Marquart. “The story is driven by exploration, and you must solve puzzles along the way. For example, if you need to get into a door but it’s locked, you need to figure out what to do or where to go in order to get the key to that door.”
For those interested in giving the game a whirl, here’s a brief synopsis:
Sepulchre casts you in the role of Dr. Harold Lang as you piece together his memory and navigate his fateful journey into the unknown. Find out how some strange characters are connected in this unsettling take on trains, historians, and huge bags.
In Inhale, you play as Alex, who is celebrating her birthday on the train. She is waiting impatiently for an urgent delivery—one that will change her life. Haunted by snatches of a past she can barely face, Alex longs to escape her room, her apartment, and her life. Discover the part she plays on the ominous train journey.
Alex wakes up in a familiar location after a with tragedy in Exhale. Join her in her desperate search to find the doctor she met and travel to the mysterious island of Augur Peak. Can she survive the journey? Why does she want to escape? And what is the dark and terrible secret from her past that doesn’t seem to want to stay hidden?
Marquart also serves as the editor-in-chief of the gaming and geek culture site Nerdy But Flirty, and is a member of the StreamFriends livestreaming group.
To purchase the game, log onto http://store.steampowered.com
This spring’s senior art show at Keuka College will feature the works of four seniors, each accomplished artists in their own rights and each with their own signature style.
Their joint exhibit, “Underneath It All,” will be featured in Lightner Gallery in the Lightner Library at Keuka College from April 20 – May 15. An artists’ reception, where light refreshments will be served, will be held Thursday, April 23, from 4:30-6 p.m.
Within the show are four separate themes conveying the work of each student artist. Potsdam resident Kaycee Maguire’s segment, “Ode to Spring,” features patterned designs created by the lacrosse midfielder who is completing a minor in graphic design and marketing. Horseheads resident Danielle Alred created a series of movie posters depicting the hidden, inner world where people can battle any of the seven deadly sins, while appearing otherwise fine on the outside in her works, “7 Deadly.” Dundee resident Jesse Ninos is going big with his larger-than-life mixed media and graphic design with an art noveau style in “We are Dragons.” Meanwhile, Interlaken resident Megan Chase uses watercolor paint, black india ink and fabrics to showcase women “Breaking the Boundaries” of traditional standards of beauty.
“I see women as snowflakes— while there are millions, there are no two who are exactly alike. Our differences as human beings should be praised rather than shamed,” Chase offered as explanation for her presented works.
In her four years on campus, Chase said she was able to explore many different mediums and styles of art as well as writing (she’s passionate about both) and will graduate with a diverse skill set, thanks to her visual and verbal art degree. After a digital photography course followed by a Foundations of Art course during her freshman year, Chase said she chose to switch her major from English to visual and verbal art.
“I am leaving Keuka College with a lot more than just an art degree, I’m leaving with communication skills that can be applied to all other aspects in life as well as a career. The program here has really allowed me to find and pursue my passions in life and I believe it allows all art majors to do so,” Chase said.
For Maguire, Keuka College offers a “ton of resources,” she said, counting Melissa Newcomb, assistant professor of art, among them. “Ms. Newcomb is a great advisor who always pushes students to strive for the best,” Maguire said.
“Graduating as one of the first few with an art & design major is awesome,” Maguire added, referring to the major the College introduced in 2013. “I have a ton of experience in a variety of fields. This program is headed in a great direction.”
And it’s preparing graduates for success too, as evidenced by the job offer Danielle Alred of Horseheads already received, to join the Elmira Jackals hockey team as its art director after graduation. Alred conducted a Field Period™ study with the Jackals in January, providing graphic design support for the East Coast Hockey (ECHL) minor league team, producing designs for their website, Jumbo-Tron and outdoor billboards, as well as social media. She credits her ability to stand out to the Jackals and others because of the handful of art classes she began taking each year after discovering a passion for graphic design in her sophomore year.
“As soon as I stepped foot into that design class I fell in love with art, which led to my student-initiated minor in digital design. Having a minor in digital design and having the skills in various Adobe design programs has helped me to stand out on campus as well as at Field Period™ sites. Being in the art program has led to a variety of different opportunities that honed my skills in not only graphic design but in a variety of different art forms,” the organizational communication major said.
Ninos too, can boast enhanced skills through his Keuka College training, having produced works in mediums that span everything from spray-painted street art, caricatures, sculpture, comics-style art and graphic design. Describing himself as “infatuated” with mixed media, Ninos has begun to focus on fantasy-themed works evocative of his artistic idols Alan Lee (illustrator of Lord of the Rings), Mary Doodles of YouTube fame, and various DC, Marvel and Wildcats comic-book artists.
“I have learned that I love capturing the element of movement, with strong lines, the essence of an organic object or the gesture of a figure drawing coming alive on the page,” Ninos said, adding that his best work often consumes eight hours or more.
Ninos said he enjoys creating art that can serve “as a strong narrative element in storytelling.” Given his love of movement, expression and emotion in art, he is pursuing further study and has applied to graduate art programs at SUNY Oswego and Alfred University.
Newcomb praised the seniors for preparing unique works reflecting different life values, beliefs, interests or personal identification with the world, and in doing so in a short two-and-a-half months time.
“Each one has a strong presence, and powerful statement built through layers of meaning,” Newcomb said. “They are leaving a strong impression on the future of the Art & Design program.”