The arts are a cornerstone of Chautauqua’s four pillars, and offering experiences where Chautauquans can interact with art is something that Chautauqua Visual Arts prioritizes.
The Stroll through the Arts Gala, where Chautauquans can connect with art and other art lovers, will be presented by the Friends of the CVA from 5 to 7 p.m. Thursday, Aug. 4 on Wythe between Strohl and Fowler-Kellogg Art Centers. Event proceeds will benefit the CVA School of Art residency program, and last-minute tickets can be purchased before the event online or at the galleries while supplies last.
“This really is our biggest fundraiser of the season,” said Betsy Vance, president of the Friends of CVA. “It’s a time where people who all have a similar interest in the visual arts can gather together and support them.”
This evening’s gala will include a live auction, where guests can bid on excursion experiences and an array of donated pieces from artists who have previously exhibited in the galleries, like Shalene Valenzuela.
In her work, through slip casting and ceramic techniques, Valenzuela reproduces images of household items such as telephones, irons and plates, highlighting the different ways in which women are often perceived and labeled by society, creating a blurred sense of self and identity. Through her images of women with red lips and suggestive glances hand-painted on everyday household items, she juxtaposes sensualized views with traditional notions of femininity, leading to a “precarious and unbalanced state of humankind,” according to her website. Three of Valenzuela’s pieces will be up for bid at the auction tonight: “Telephone: Red Tangle,” “Ironing Things Out: Measure Up,” and “Lunch Tray.”
In addition to the auction, there will also be a paddle raise, giving attendees the opportunity to directly fund either a full or partial residency scholarship.
Richard Parlato, a director of the Friends of CVA, said that this year’s group of resident artists marks one of the most diverse and eclectic groups the program has ever hosted. Offering full scholarships allows CVA to help ensure the program continues to have a diverse and inclusive cohort every year.
In recent years, however, there has been a decrease in external funding, making internal fundraising efforts like the gala and this Sunday’s Art in the Park event more important.
“Without donations and support, there’s simply no students,” Parlato said.
Each year, the residency program gives a group of artists the ability to spend the summer at Chautauqua and engage with creative spaces and programming, all while being surrounded by a community of fellow artists and art aficionados.
“There’s such a community here at Chautauqua, and there’s always people doing something very close to you,” said resident artist Anna Lipscomb. “You never have to go far to have a conversation, and I really like that.”
Lipscomb recently graduated with her Master of Fine Arts in visual arts from Columbia College Chicago. Lipscomb also has a Bachelor of Fine Arts in contemporary sculpture, and much of her work is sculpture. Through her clay doll sculptures, she aims to combat sexualized views of women, which she said ultimately prevent women’s agency, freedom and self-expression.
“As women, we ultimately have less freedom to go out at night, or really anywhere in the world,” Lipscomb said. “In my work, I focus on anonymity — being able to transfer your body parts when necessary.”
From simply walking across the street to riding public transit, women are often subjected to unwanted advances and comments. By removing, disguising and interchanging her sculptures’ body parts, her pieces provide a feeling of safety and anonymity in spaces that have typically objectified, sexualized and villainized the female body. Lipscomb calls attention to how women are held responsible for the inaccurate perceptions of their character, and are forced to limit their own agency and self-expression for fear of sexual violence, aggression and even death.
One of Lispcomb’s pieces, “Legion,” is currently on display as part of CVA’s School of Art Residents exhibition, “Connections II,” in Fowler-Kellogg. She came up with the concept after her college adviser asked her what specific message she wanted to convey in her art. She said she often creates her pieces first, and forms concepts later.
“When my adviser asked what my art is about, I just said that I make little dolls and creatures — that’s it,” Lipscomb said. “However, she kept insisting that I had something deeper. In the back of my mind, I started thinking about being a woman in the city and how harassment has always been a big issue.”
Although Lipscomb explores intense topics in her art, she said she doesn’t want her art to be taken too seriously. She is thankful that the residency program has given her the chance to connect with other artists.
“Since I just graduated, I’ve been asking people here what they did after graduate school to sort of work through my own personal options as an artist,” she said.
Similarly to Lipscomb, multi-disciplinary resident artist Seyhr Qayum explores how the objectification of the female body prevents women from freely expressing themselves, and where a woman holds space and value in society.
Qayum, who recently graduated with a Master of Fine Arts from Pratt Institute, and holds a Bachelor of Fine Arts in painting from Boston University, said that her work “sits at the intersectionality between adornment and gender politics.”
She views jewelry, an adornment, as a feminine form of resistance and a way for women to safely reclaim their agency, freedom and space in systems of oppression.
Qayum was born in Chicago, but grew up in Pakistan where she was surrounded by jewelry pieces that were considered family relics and heirlooms. Her large-scale sculpture titled “So I Guess We’re Not Getting Our Jewels Back?” is inspired by heirloom jewelry, and is currently on display in “Connections II.”
Although her work is based on her personal experiences, she said that women across different backgrounds have connected with her work, as passing down jewelry is a cherished tradition in many cultures.
She said she’s thankful to have a family that supports her passion and to be spend the summer at Chautauqua.
“I know it sounds really cheesy, but coming from the city, it’s honestly just so wonderful to see the stars here every night,” she said.
Lipscomb and Qayum are just two of the resident artists at the School of Art this summer. All artists-in-residence will be opening their studios to the community from 10 a.m. to 5 p.m. Saturday in the Arts Quad, giving Chautauquans the chance to meet them and see the work they’ve created throughout the summer.
“The artists are all so interesting,” Vance said. “Just being involved with them, even if you aren’t necessarily knowledgeable about art, it doesn’t matter; they each offer us such different perspectives.”