University premieres first Student-curated Gallery


Asia Letlow

Tuesday, April 5, marked the opening of a new art exhibit, Loss | Connection, at the Peter Fingesten Art Gallery on the B Level of 1 Pace Plaza. Curated by Art History major Courtneigh Summerrise, a reception was held that evening in acknowledgement of its premiere and celebrating the artists involved.

Submissions were open to students of any field of study, from art to business and economics. Preparation and planning started last semester; the culminating project serves as part of Summerrise’s senior thesis. In preparation, Summerrise periodically reviewed submissions collected in 41 Park Row, keeping frequent contact with those who submitted work and consulting various professors for guidance. After a deadline extension, the works were hung on April 4, with the show opening the next day.

Summerrise explained, “The theme of the show is how we are always connected to the person we were and the things that we had before we lost them.” She continued, “We go through this traumatic loss and it deeply impacts us and changes who we are as a person. There’s always a part of us that is connected to who we are before.” As noted in the press release, the vertical line within the title holds significance as it  “conceptually represent(s) the redirection and change associated with a lingering connection to something lost, a memory, a way of being or an attachment which is transformed into something new.”

Artists displayed multitudes of different media in their work, including charcoal, film, and paint, among several others. Sixteen works are on display; spacing gave merit to the nature, individuality, and style of each. Ashley Epping’s “Restriction,” an oil painting on canvas, depicts a woman’s legs exposed to the vein. Various areas are painted red to reflect Eppings’ real-life struggle with a disability that causes pain and affects movement in her legs. Steven Hartwig’s “Cutting the Cord,” drawn in charcoal, makes intricate use of negative space and color simplicity. The piece is a part of his honors thesis.

“It’s basically about the loss of connection in relationships, and balancing the edge between having a lot of exhilarating thrill in a relationship and also being miserable,” Hartwig remarked.

“At first I thought it was a photograph of a person. It’s simple, but at the same time, so complex,” said student Alina Sydorenko. Though he has not pursued many outside venues, Hartwig plans to partake in a studio show later this month.

Mark Sadiang-Abay’s piece, “Blurred Portrait: Julia,” is an acrylic painting on canvas. It depicts a blurred image of a blonde woman situated in a dark background. The picture symbolizes the way Sadiang-Abay sees people without his glasses, embracing his troubles with eyesight.

“It’s interesting how he took what we see as a disability and made really cool art out of it. When he goes out into the world without his glasses, that’s what he sees,” commented University senior Kisha Dornevil, awestruck at the concept of literally looking through the eyes of another through a work of art.

Canvas, paint, and charcoal were not the only works on display. Students utilized digital media to produce creative works relevant to the theme. Brooke Stoker’s “Where Mud Abounds: Living and Capturing on the Long Trail” chronicles her trip across the Appalachian Trail. Stoker gained inspiration from her father’s prior hiking endeavors, citing that she enjoyed the pastime as well. “I bought a ton of cameras and was really excited to film,” she began. However, during her hike, her mindset changed. “I started to not want to use my camera anymore. I got to meet these amazing people and I just wanted to talk to them face to face-I didn‘t want to film them anymore,” she resolved, summarizing the piece.  

The reception celebrating the commencement of the exhibit served not only as a means to convey the relationship between loss and connection as a concept, but as a physical reminder that art can unify a body of people.

Loss | Connection will be on display until April 15.