By Davone Presley
On Wednesday, students and faculty alike converged in the Visual Arts building’s Richard and Dolly Maass Gallery to celebrate the opening of Everything’s Fine Here, a group exhibition of work by first and second year Purchase MFA students from the School of Art+Design. For two hours, the artists behind the works celebrated, applauding each other’s work and discussing the themes and rational behind their creations.
One of the artists, second year BFA/MA Gregory Wharmby, constructed his piece out of found materials, including lottery tickets and wooden planks. His usage of these materials comes from his desire to “reclaim surface labor from the abstract,” and make a statement on waste in society. His work for the gallery not only exists to reclaim found material, but the use of used scratch-off tickets also acts as commentary on feelings of hope held by those who buy into the lottery.
Alessia Reggiani, also a second year MFA student, submitted a piece that acts as part of a bigger project. Consisting of a black box displaying two videos of worms, her submission is a piece that started out with performance art and acts as an extension of the themes present in her performance, such as questioning the “self,” and the role of women. \
“Questioning these topics, the domestic, women in the domestic, identity,” was the reasoning behind her piece, which was constructed “in a week or two, but the idea was formed for about 2 months,” said Reggiani.
Another artist, Emma Welty, a dual degree second year MFA student, used her art to express personal feelings through creative work. Combining weaving with a display of candles that viewers could light, her submission allows both her and the viewer to connect with feelings of grief.
“The candles become a sort of memorial,” said Welty, who herself uses the candles as her own “private mourning.” The weaving is her primary artform, but also is an act of respect towards her Ukranian mother who was an influence in her decision to become a weaver.
The gallery, composed of mixed media art pieces, was curated by curatorial manager Elanor King, and Faye Hirsch, SUNY Purchase’s coordinator of the School of Art+Design’s MFA program. King, a teacher of the Think Wide Open: Discovering the Arts course, and herself a recipient of a BFA from Purchase, elaborated about the process behind gathering the artists. Unlike other galleries, which are programed around a particular artist or theme, the gallery was made without an overarching thematic through line. As a result, the curating of the gallery was “a bit of a different process,” according to King, one that involved visiting the MFA student’s galleries and then choosing which pieces would be displayed.
Aside from those differences, King made sure to treat the gallery like any other, carefully planning out which pieces would go where, and taking consideration of the physical space and lighting in order to properly display the students work. In the end, King expressed that the gallery was a success, both aesthetically and in terms of showcasing the student’s artwork, saying that she was “just so impressed with the professional quality of the student’s work.”
The gallery will run through Dec. 14, open from Tuesday-Friday, 12:00 p.m. to 5:00 p.m.