This past weekend the gallery held the opening reception for their first exhibit of the semester “Imaging Place”. This exhibit has a special place in my heart, since I not only oversaw the research conducted for the exhibit, but I am also one of the featured writers. It has become a recent tradition in the gallery, that every first exhibit each spring is a student researched exhibit. This may mean an individual student employee, or as was the case this year and last year, the entirety of the staff plays a role in researching the exhibit.
“Imaging Place” is an idea, concept and exhibit based in visual art. The exhibit addresses and asks about the relationship of architecture reflective of its makers mind and the relationship of places and how we see the Place and Space before us. The architecture of a place develops a character that distinguishes each place from another, in this way it becomes a form of human culture and expression. The best way I’ve found to explain it is to have someone picture the skyline in New York City, that skyline is iconic and instantly recognizable for most people. I then have them picture their hometown and their favorite hangout, for them the place that they choose is just as iconic and recognizable as the New York City Skyline. In this way, locations begin to take on a human-like quality, and you begin to create emotional connections to those places. The exhibit also expands beyond locations with architecture and discusses natural landscapes. These natural landscapes are often just as iconic and recognizable to those familiar with the area. Each of the pieces in the show depicts a location that potentially holds significance to someone, whether it is significant to a single person or an entire country, we can get a sense of how important having a place to identify with becomes to creating and shaping ones identity. In essence, where one is from becomes a piece of their identity.
The exhibit is truly diverse not only in the variety of artwork but also the unique perspectives brought to each piece by the student staff. While the pieces are united under a common theme, each piece has a distinct look and feel that is further conveyed through the accompanying writings by the student staff. Additionally, students have an opportunity to see the works interpreted and spoken about from the perspective of their fellow students. While we held the student staff to a high standard in their writing, each person brings their own flavor and background to their writing while maintaining the high quality standards expected in a gallery. Along that same vein, it gives students the opportunity to acknowledge and support the hard work of their peers. The exhibit was produced, developed, and installed by the student staff under the direction of the gallery director, Carolynne Whitefeather, with the assistance of Utica College Alumni, Amanda Dummet, for editing. After the original pieces and concept were chosen, the student staff took the exhibit through the production process during a semester long research project as part of their employment at the gallery. From there, the staff installed and will now maintain the exhibit, while presenting the exhibit as docents.
Along with the great content, we had a great reception to boot. The student staff was on hand to talk about their work, and we had a great turnout from the community and students alike. I’ll leave you with some photos of the reception. I strongly encourage everyone to stop by if they can.