Student art exhibits display expression and ideas

By on February 5, 2004

Duncan C. Weldon, a theater producer, once said, “A vision is a vision if it’s only in your head. If no one gets to see it, it’s as good as dead. It has to come to life.”

This is how Professor Peter DePietro, assistant professor of e-media, feels about art. His students are the first of the semester to have their artwork showcased outside of Alumni Hall.

“I wanted my students to share their vision with an audience,” DePietro said.

The students created designs that could be used as book or magazine covers and posters.

“The students’ artwork done on computers is amazing and looks professional,” Kerstin Soderlund, the director of the Student Center and Student Leadership Development, said.

Soderlund came up with the idea to display student works last semester after a professor looked into exhibiting his students’ pieces. The works were then being displayed in the bookstore.

“It is important to have an art display because we have a college of Liberal Arts and students should have an exposure to different art and opportunities to talk about content and design,” Soderlund said. “Art is part of our culture and society.”

Also displayed were the works of Professor Angela Arrey-Wastavino, assistant director of the MAT Program. Arrey-Wastavino has had her artwork displayed internationally as well.

“It feels gratifying to go to other places and see your work. I am a firm believer that arts transcend geographical and political borders,” Arrey-Wastavino said. “The feedback is amazing.”

According to Arrey-Wastavino, positive feedback can lead to extended display time of a particular work.

“I was surprised how people spread the word among members of the local art community and other circles. Visitors came from all over Connecticut and other states,” she said.

During the month of February, there will be an exhibit for Black History Month. The theme is “Rap, Resistance, and Hip Hop: From the Margins to the Mainstream.”

The school has purchased two prints representing rap and hip hop culture. Soderlund says the display will feature not only pictures, but books and a history of the predominant artists, who helped rap and hip hop become popular in our society.

Throughout the month, there will be guest speakers and shows.

J.C. Watts, a former college football player and U.S. Congressman, will come to speak on Feb. 4. On Feb. 12, Ernest Allen will discuss the history of rap music and the hip hop culture. In addition, Tricia Rose, author of “Black Noise: Rap Music and Black Culture in Contemporary America” will come to speak on Feb. 25. The Black Student Union and Student Programming Board will co-sponsor Apollo night on Feb. 20, and a week later, a New Haven step squad will perform. The exhibit for Black History Month ends with a Poetry Slam on Feb. 28. All the programs will be at Alumni Hall.

The exhibit during the month of March will be for Women’s History Month. Soderlund is meeting with the Women’s Creativity Conference Committee to come up with ideas for the exhibit. She hopes to highlight some of the female faculty and have speakers come to campus.

Professor Stephen Henderson, assistant professor of Fine Arts, is coordinating faculty art work which will be displayed from March 28 to April 17. Finally, student work from Professor Hastings’ classes will finish out the semester.

Art work represents different things to different people, and it can be looked at in many different ways.

“My artwork represents freedom, no restrictions. It’s up to the artist to follow conventions,” Arrey-Wastavino said. “It also means interpretation. People can see whatever they want to see in your work. Freedom is executed both ways, by the artist and by the audience.”

Many people look to artwork to find cultural messages.

“I am inspired when there’s a work that addresses and illustrates larger societal issues. Things that make you think. Materials that one uses in new and different ways,” Soderlund said.

Similarly, DePietro says, “I am inspired to explore creative territory and to create something new.”

Soderlund hopes the art displays will make students and faculty think artistically. She says, “I want people to look at the display and say, ‘Is it art? It’s only a CD case’ and have a conversation about it.”


About Jennifer DeAmicis