Starting this Sunday, July 22, Fowler-Kellogg Art Center will be filled with hundreds of pieces, showcasing what the School of Art students have been working on all summer.
This year’s Chautauqua School of Art Annual Student Exhibition will open with a reception from 3 to 5 p.m. Sunday, July 22, in Fowler-Kellogg and will be on display until Aug. 2.
Work from all students in the painting, ceramics, drawing and sculpting departments will be featured in the show, chosen from the students’ work by Don Kimes, artistic director of Visual Arts at Chautauqua Institution.
Natalia Viteri, a ceramics student, melds pottery with biology and psychology.
Infographics around the grounds about Chautauqua’s native plants and runoff pollution captured her attention and worked their way into Viteri’s pieces.
“I’ve always been interested in science,” Viteri said. “I like classifying things and finding out the different parts … wanting to typify things.”
Viteri crafted three pieces that represent a different native, pollution-fighting plant: echinacea flowers, butterfly weed and swamp milkweed.
“I thought it was cool that, to combat this man-made problem, they’re going back in time and bringing back what was taken away with industrialization,” Viteri said.
Viteri is also working on a larger piece that combines all of these plants, and that takes on a humanistic form — some leaves could represent a rib cage, others teeth. Originally, she planned to combine traditional European settler and Seneca designs in her work, melding the two cultures through a common subject, but changed her mind during the research process.
“I realized, as I started to dig deeper, I couldn’t do that culture and those histories justice in the two weeks I had to lead up to the show I was preparing for,” Viteri said. “So I thought, ‘Why am I interested in these plants?’ ”
Instead, Viteri decorated her pieces with the natural filtering plants, and busts with plantlike shapes bursting out of them. They’re meant to make people think about “the idea that the plants act as a filter in this ecosystem, and what is it that we use in our own lives and in our own minds as a filter for toxicity,” Viteri said.
After a year at Parsons School of Design, Viteri transferred to Queens College, from which she recently graduated with a psychology and art double major. Initially, Viteri only planned to study psychology, but she began taking art classes.
“I was wondering, ‘How is art really helpful to anyone?’ (I was) being too self-critical,” Viteri said.
The “urge” to create art, she said, was strong enough to lead her into a second major.
Two or three years ago, when Viteri took her first ceramics course, she liked that she could combine her drawing and painting skills from graphic design with the sculptural aspect of ceramics.
Viteri is confident in the importance of her work and the impact it can have on people.
“I don’t have to be a psychologist to help people,” Viteri said. “I can be an artist.”
Drew Davis is another ceramics student, and described his road to the medium as “windy.” After starting his undergraduate education at Casper College in Wyoming in 2005, he completed his degree at the University of Montana in 2016. Last year was Davis’ first as a Syracuse University MFA student.
Davis started his career as a painter.
“It was pretty seamless, actually,” Davis said of his transition to ceramics. “I was getting bored with painting, and I got hooked or ‘bit by the clay bug,’ as a lot of people like to say, so I started throwing on the wheel and never really looked back.”
Davis hasn’t completely abandoned painting; he said he now thinks of clay as his canvas. He also paints “all the time” on paper, he said.
Usually, Davis crafts large platters, but a professor encouraged him to branch out. He thought about what he liked to drink, and decided to start making martini glasses and espresso cups (with accompanying saucers).
For his piece he’s hoping to showcase in the student exhibition, Ryan Strochinsky was inspired by an Alice Oswald poem about Orpheus.
In Greek mythology, Orpheus is a poet, musician and prophet. He was ultimately torn apart by female followers of Dionysus and thrown into a river, where his decapitated head continued to sing.
Strochinsky’s piece represents Orpheus’ head as it allegedly floated down the river, mouth still open in song.
To honor Orpheus’ mythology further, Strochinsky chose to cover his head in materials he retrieved from Chautauqua Lake.
“His voice and the river become one thing,” Strochinsky said of his piece. “It’s about decay, but it’s more about entropy and flux.”
Painting student Hannah McBroom spent the first part of the summer collaborating with the Chautauqua Opera Company on a film documenting their rehearsals. The final product — her first film — is around 65 minutes.
This week, McBroom has been working on a painting of the greenery just outside her studio that she started during Week One.
“I do more realistic stuff,” McBroom said. “My work is basically from life observations.”
More paintings-in-progress line the walls of Mc–Broom’s studio, including a painting of a still-life and one of her partner. The couple is currently working on a project where they will each paint one abstract and one realistic portrait of the other.
“I’m gearing up for my thesis and my MFA,” said McBroom, a student at the University of Arkansas. “I’m trying to get my head wrapped around that.”
Mustafa Yasar, an artist from Turkey now studying at Queens College, has been displaying his work around the grounds since Week One in the form of painted rock formations. One is situated around a tree in front of the School of Art, and another is outside Bellinger Hall. Every day, Yasar changes the formations.
Yasar has also spent the summer working on “Turkish Cookies.” He started the project this summer, thinking of his childhood and his mother kneading dough. The “cookies” in the piece are painted chunks of clay, and not only recall Yasar’s childhood memories, but are also meant to draw attention to Turkish women who were arrested four months ago for baking cookies for imprisoned students.
With his work, Yasar wants to “memorialize their story,” he said. Yasar hopes to display “Turkish Cookies” in the student exhibition.
“It’s going to challenge the concept of the gallery,” Yasar said.