Faith Benedict was looking for a way to inspire the growing number of students in her ceramics class at Keuka College, and the result is a new exhibit: “Clay Connection,” featuring the work of eight regional potters and sculptors from Rochester to Syracuse.
Although most of the artists don’t personally know one another, they have in common a passion for creating art from the same original element: clay. And though each piece began in the same form—as a wet, misshapen lump—the variety of shapes, sizes, colors and uses of the pieces that result reflects the distinct styles and skills of each artist and further contrast just how dynamic clay itself can be.
The array of pieces now adorning new gallery space in Lightner Library even features a handful of collaborative works where two artists teamed together to display the contrast possible between large-scale pottery and small-scale sculpture. While Richard Aerni of Rochester fashioned the foundational jars or pedastals of each piece, Carolyn Dilcher-Stutz, also of Rochester, designed the intricate, hand-sized animals – birds, a deer – atop each one.
Nearby, other animals, particularly fish, serve as whimsical, cheery handles on several teapots crafted by John Smolenski of Skaneateles. The former Keuka College professor attended the School of American Craftsman at Rochester Institute of Technology, then served as artistic mentor to Benedict and other students during her undergraduate years before he went on to teach high school art in Skaneateles.
The “Clay Connection” exhibit also features the work of husband-and-wife artists Ann Bliss and Steve Pilcher of Butternut Pottery in Jamesville, N.Y., along with Peter Valenti, and David Webster, both of Skaneateles, and Peter Gerbic of Middlesex. Light refreshments will be served at the artists’ reception held from 4:30 – 6 p.m. Thursday, Sept. 4 at the gallery inside Lightner Library, with a brief artists talk from Smolenski on the craft, starting at 5 p.m. The reception is open to the public and the gallery is open daily during library hours.
According to Benedict, her personal connections with potters such as Smolenski led to new connections with additional potters and sculptors until she had gathered eight masters of the craft. The show includes artists using traditional methods of firing high-temperature stoneware, as well as some who use a single-firing technique.
Peter Gerbic of South Hill Pottery in Middlesex has been working with clay since 1964 when he first started at the American School of Craftsmen at RIT, where he trained under the tutelage of renowned sculptor Frans Wildenhain. While initially trained in functional pottery, Gerbic said, like his “master” Wildenhain, he eventually moved into sculpture, even murals, which retain the same, brick-colored hue as the earthenware in which he specializes. Even its name, terra cotta, correlates to its nature as “baked earth.”
“At the moment, I’m doing straight sculpture, which means lots of curves, at least the way I do it,” Gerbic said with a chuckle. “My emphasis is more on the sculptural elements – the bark on trees, the way sand or snow moves from the wind, human body forms, fruit forms, the way a stream is etched by the water, rocks that have been sandblasted, or water itself. I’m trying to create my own interpretation with the bedrock of Great Nature behind me.”
Gerbic’s works also include some ceremonial pieces, which he described as “my interpretation of Native forms and designs and representations that speak to larger dimension of our life.”
According to Benedict, seeing what other artists are doing, with the same material she works with, will inspire her, not only as a fellow craftsman, but as a teacher.
“It’s important for the students to understand that every one says something different with their work – what is your voice? We’re all on different paths and experience different things,” said Benedict, drawing a contrast between her own functional pottery –plates, bowls, mugs and such – and the bronze or clay sculptures for which her husband, Professor Emeritus of Art Dexter Benedict, is known.
“No two of us are the same,” she said. “When we’re talking about the connection at Keuka College, I think that’s what is exciting about an organization, where you have all this diversity, this common bond of wanting to learn. It’s our glue”
In the few months that Keuka College has boasted an expanded curriculum in its newest major, Art and Design, students have begun digging into new studio art and digital design courses. Now, they’re showcasing what they’ve learned.
Currently on display at Lightner Gallery in Lightner Library at the College through April 11, the student art show features a collection of digital illustration, mixed media and other designs from the new classes. These pieces are in addition to the photography, paintings, drawings, ceramics and sculptures created in existing classes.
“What you see when you walk into the space is the range and breadth of what the new art and design program offers,” said Melissa Newcomb, assistant professor of art.
On Thursday, March 20, from 4:30 – 6 p.m., an artists’ reception with light refreshments will be held at the gallery. All members of the campus community are invited to attend the event, which is free and open to the public. The work in this show has been crafted by freshmen, sophomores, and juniors as well as seniors whose major is not in art. Graduating seniors in the current program will exhibit their cumulative art portfolios later, in the final gallery show of the academic year.
“This year’s student show work is stellar,” said Winsome Zinkievich ‘14 of her fellow artists. “Though each piece is unique and tells its own story, each piece also compliments all the other works presented.”
Those distinct differences proved a bit perplexing however, when it came to handling logistics for the exhibit, Newcomb pointed out.
“The layout was a challenge because everyone has their own individual style. One piece is not like the next – so how do you create a sense of flow? But it came together with more than one set of eyes and it worked out wonderfully,” she said, crediting Zinkievich, Jesse Ninos ‘17 and Mitch Leet ‘16 for help crafting the overall design of the show.
This year’s show demonstrates the strength of the talent being developed at the College through the old and new programs, said Leet, who switched to the new art and design major this fall. Some of the additions to the curriculum include Foundations of Design, the prerequisite course in which students begin developing their art portfolios, Mixed Media, Visual Design, Digital Illustration and Digital Storytelling.
“I’m very excited about the future of art at Keuka and I feel very lucky to be part of such a fantastic show,” Leet said.
Natural landscapes are Kat Andonucci’s favorite subject to photograph, her homing beacon. Heading outside to take nature photos remains a comfort, she said.
When she bought her first camera, Andonucci liked “nothing better than capturing a perfect photo, on a perfect day. My goal is always to preserve that moment in time as realistically as possible, sometimes it’s as simple as just taking the photo, while other times it can be much more complex.”
Each work in Andonucci’s senior exhibit, My Nature, which runs through Dec. 13 in Lightner Gallery inside Lightner Library, has some sort of connection to nature, she explained. From Adirondack Park landscapes, to places near Andonucci’s hometown of Chestertown, near Lake George, to locales visited, mountains hiked or even the nature of a human body, the works all carry the theme of nature.
In her first photography class at Keuka, when she was originally a biology major, she walked into class with a new digital camera only to discover the course was in black and white film photography. Thankfully, her mother’s old Konica film camera sufficed and Andonucci fell in love with the entire process of taking images from film to print.
The exhibit features numerous black and white film photos, sometimes contrasted with digital ones.
“There is just such a dramatic change between the two, even though the photos are the same,” she described. “Not everything has to be bright and colorful. I enjoy finding the beauty in the odd things, things that people might often overlook or not necessarily consider to be beautiful.” (more…)
Abby Simmons loves the Finger Lakes. Perhaps that’s why its rolling hills, rural landscapes and colorful foliage feature prominently in her photography.
One night, heading to her parents’ farm in Bellona, Simmons crested a hill near Tomion’s Farm Market (off Route 14A) and noticed a tractor in a nearby cornfield. She pulled over and was absorbed in taking dozens of photos of the tractor’s silhouette against the setting sun, when her parents drove by. They stopped when they saw her wading through the field with her camera.
“They catch me doing that a lot,” Simmons said with a smile.
The tractor at sunset image and many others will be featured in the Lightner Gallery at Lightner Library at Keuka College Sept. 2 – Oct. 31. An artist’s reception will be held 4:30-6 p.m. Thursday, Sept. 19, where light refreshments will be served. Gallery hours may be found online at lightner.keuka.edu.
This will be Simmons’ first solo show. Her work first caught the eye of Melissa Newcomb, assistant professor of art and curator of the gallery, during last winter’s staff and faculty art exhibit. Simmons has worked as a staff member for Keuka’s D.R.I.V.E program for the last year-and-a-half. (more…)
Prismacolor butterflies. Black and white typography. Cupcakes and dandelions, in triplicate. Colored-pencil portraits. A powerful pink-and-orange sunset. A ship sailing off on a sea of cotton.
These are some of the works featured in the Keuka College student art show, running through April 18 in the Lightner Gallery, with additional works on display on the fourth floor of Hegeman Hall.
The gallery, located in Lightner Library, is open during regular library hours, which vary during the academic semester, but can be found online at: http://library.keuka.edu
The exhibit will featured drawings, paintings, sculpture, mixed media, and photography from the hands of freshmen, sophomores, and juniors, as well as a few seniors who are non-art majors.
Senior Ashley Larimore and others enrolled in the new graphic design course offered this spring have debuted typography collections in the show. Larimore said that although she does not major in art, she loves drawing and painting, and “couldn’t wait” to add the new course to her schedule so that she could build more design skills working with Adobe software.
“The experience I gained working in Adobe Illustrator after the first project is incredible. I’ve really enjoyed overcoming the challenge of creating art through a screen using a mouse, rather than my hands,” Larimore said. “Every time I see my finished product, I have to remind myself it’s my work.”
According to Melissa Newcomb, assistant professor of art, the submissions for this student show are “the best yet” in her four years teaching at Keuka.
“I say every time, ‘It’s the best show yet,’ and it seems to get better every year,” Newcomb said. “The quality is just great.”
The majority of pieces surround drawing and photography works from the Drawing I & II and digital photography courses held in the fall. In addition, works from last spring’s Painting I course, and mixed media pieces from a general-education course, Foundations of Art and Design, as well as Sculpture I & II, which were both offered this spring, appear in the show.
Junior Stephanie Collins, an occupational therapy major, said she could relate a lot of the material she learned in art education class to art therapy. The show features a series of colorful butterflies Collins created using colored pencils.
“I’ve never really used them for a project before so it was really cool to see how bright I could get the colors,” Collins said. “This class lets me explore different materials like crayons and colored pencils that I wouldn’t be able to use on other projects. It teaches me how to incorporate art into things I never would have thought of before.”
According to Collins, the student works in the show tell her a key point about Keuka: “I am impressed with all of the talent at the school!”
The student show will be followed by Keuka’s senior show, which will feature capstone works from six seniors majoring in visual and verbal arts.