Ramapo’s first art gallery of the year shines a light on the dynamic minds of professors
This year, the first gallery opening at the Berrie Center is the exhibition of the Faculty of Visual Arts, available until November 19 in the Kresge and Pascal galleries. The 13 professors presented work in all areas of the visual arts, including sculpture, ceramics and animation.
As you enter the gallery, it’s hard not to draw attention to two standing sculptures, as they extend from floor to ceiling. Manufactured by Professor Warner Wada, the âPhoto Tape Tripodsâ and âInvaded Tripods of 11.19-10.21â are made from materials that Wada had on hand during his quarantine.
âAs I restarted my photography projects after being fully vaccinated earlier this year,â the project description reads, âthe ‘lockdown’ artwork that I started during those spooky days got me motivated to continue doing this work. “
Another sculpture stands between the two tripods, a twisted column (Untitled) by Professor Lori Merhige. This is a mixed media project born out of a âdesire to achieve something that I was not physically able to build by hand,â according to the project description.
Most of the works on display were beautifully personal, such as Professor Lauren Fedorchak’s series of photographs. One photo, “How I Feel About My Mother,” shows a woman in her underwear lying on top of an older woman, looking directly at the camera. It took my breath away.
The photo is part of a series called “Toast The Bread Twice,” which explores generational trauma, according to Fedorchak. This series was one of the gallery’s many significant photographic projects, each deserving its own moment of pause.
Professor Jackie Skrynski, associate art professor for drawing and painting, had works presented in a variety of mediums. A series of oil paintings depict saturated and detailed plants, both native and invasive, from a residence in Black Rock Forest.
âThroughout my career, my work has described the connections between humans and the natural world. I have often done this with troubling subjects, âSkrynski said. âWhile the newer oil paintings still have some advantage, they also intend to portray beauty in a way I’ve never tried before. “
Skrynski says his art often faces its own mortality. âIn painting the faded iris, I wanted to suggest its grace in death, how something as common as a faded flower can contain time, beauty, nature, aging and death, and thus offer a balm to face our own mortality, âshe said. “It sounds totally overwhelming, but I think it’s about the best I can hope to do as an artist.”
Alongside his naturist paintings, Skrynski also featured charcoal and pencil work. His two-part work âStretchâ combines anatomy and botany in one.
âI was referring to the skin folds around the smiling eyes and the bark of the trees. I created two designs that were almost symmetrical to each other, which was delicate and a lot of fun, âshe said. “I see all kinds of anatomy suggested when I look at this drawing, like a torso stretch duo that inspired the name.”
On its opening night, students and staff toured the gallery. You could see them talking energetically with the artists about the meaning and processes of their work. Skrynski says opening the gallery felt very safe, with everyone vaccinated and masked.
âIt was wonderful to see people again at the Berrie Center! I appreciated the students and alumni who made a special effort to attend the opening, âsaid Skrynski. âThe Acting Provost and the President were also present! It seemed like a big step towards more normal events on campus. “
Other featured works, like Professor Ann LePore’s audio loop, were interactive for the viewer – or in this case, the listener. Only on a bench surrounded by black curtains can the viewer hear the story âFollowed, Escapedâ. The way LePore acquires stories is as intimate as the experience of hearing them.
âI cook for each registered person telling a story,â says the project description. âI invest myself as a listener and guardian and both parties share a vulnerability, which leads to a more confident exchange. “
The work of our visual arts teachers is something to savor; how lucky Ramapo is to learn from such talented and dedicated artists. I implore every member of the community with a spare moment to browse, to spend time in the galleries appreciating the variety of works on display, as well as the countless hours of creation that each work represents.