Highlights of the Fine Art Collection
Siena Curator of Fine Arts
(518) 782 - 6704
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CONTEMPORARY WOMENS’ ART SHOW IN YATES GALLERY
Four works of art by contemporary women artists are on exhibit in the Standish Library’s Yates Gallery as a culmination of a group project by students in Dr. Patricia Trutty-Coohill’s Modern Art class. All four artworks are from the College’s FAMLI (Fine Arts Museum of Long Island) collection, which provided other works of art for study by these students during the Spring 2008 semester.
Pondscape, by Suzanne Chamlin, Fetch, by Lee Lozano, Hare, by Dame Elisabeth Frink, and three untitled pastels by Constance Sloggatt-Wolf, were chosen from a list of fifteen selected works by female artists compiled by Curator Phyllis Chapman. The students researched the all of those works and the artists, and then chose the four above-mentioned artworks for the show. The show will remain on exhibit until July 31.
Two of the artists represented attained national and international recognition; most notably Frink, whose renown was primarily for her innovative sculptures. After studying in Britian’s Guildford School of Art and Chelsea School of Art, she had her first major exhibition when she was only twenty-two, at the Beaux-Arts Gallery in London. London’s Tate Gallery was impressed with her work, and purchased her sculpture, Bird. She was also, however, a prolific printmaker, and during the 1970s produced a series of lithographs illustrating Homer’s Odyssey, Aesop’s Fables, and a series of etchings for The Canterbury Tales. Hare is an elegantly simple example of lithography, employing a minimum of color and making good use of white space to define the form. She frequently portrayed animals in her sculptures as well as her prints.
Lee Lozano’s art encompassed several different mediums and styles, from Expressionism to Minimalism, and performance art. Fetch, a multi-panel monochromatic painting, creates subtle visual effects through gradations of tone and directional forms. It stands in strong contrast with her earlier work and performance pieces of the same time period, which were often aggressive and hostile toward the art world. By the late 1960s, her psychological problems and addictions became more counter-productive. She began a boycott of speaking to women as a means to understanding them better; unfortunately, the experiment lasted for the rest of her short life. Her last shows in New York City and at the Wadsworth Athaneum were curated by men, and she would only work with male dealers and gallery owners.
Painter Suzanne Chamlin creates her landscape paintings “en plein air” (on site), stating that “Having visual information directly in front of me, informs my process of thinking and responding; it influences my decisions about color and shape.” Pondscape, a large work in heavy impasto, recalls Monet’s Waterlilies paintings; a juxtaposition of representation and abstraction. Chamlin adds that the “content of the painting becomes as much about color as it does about the actual ‘scene’. “ Ms. Chamlin is Assistant Professor of Studio Art at Fairfield University in Connecticut.
Another educator, Constance Sloggatt-Wolf, created three large pastel works in the show, titles unidentified at this time. Ms. Sloggatt-Wolf teaches art in public school in the Hempstead area, where FAMLI was located. Her three drawings progress from relatively simple muted forms to an exuberant, lush display of color in primary hues. She achieves a brilliance and depth of color that is difficult to reach in this demanding medium. The FAMLI collection also includes three of her oversized paintings of similar subject matter and colors, with titles that suggest spiritual themes.
The works in the show demonstrate the emergence of contemporary women’s art that began in the late 1960s and had established itself by the 1970s. Prior to that time, women had been secondary players in the art world, with only a few like Berthe Morisot, Georgia O’Keeffe, and Helen Frankenthaler achieving national and international recognition and acclaim. The proliferation of visual media, the growing influence of art critics, collectors and “experts”, and the women’s movement, all contributed toward a greater acceptance of female artists alongside their male counterparts. Activist groups such as the WAR (Women Artists in Revolution) picketed museums and galleries that excluded women’s art, and created many alternative exhibit spaces and galleries themselves. Minorities and other groups, such as gays and lesbians, benefited from the era’s expanded awareness and recognition for artists with different perspectives.
Efforts toward gaining equality in the arts continue, and still persevere. Looking at the work of these pioneers of female artistic equality, and knowing that Siena holds many other outstanding works by women, is an inspiration, as well as an aesthetically pleasing experience.
Exhibit Summer 2008
Selections from Siena's FAMLI Collection
Two untitled pastels by Constance Stagett-Wolf, and Pondscape, oil on canvas by Suzanne Chamlin.
Fetch, oil on canvas by Lee Lozano.
This exhibit was mounted by Phyllis Chapman, the Siena Curator of Fine Arts, who has provided an article on the artists and their work. Contact her for more information on the exhibit at firstname.lastname@example.org or 518-782-6704.
More information on the FAMLI Collection.
Independent Study Project for 2008
Maria R. Segala
Dr. P. Trutty-Coohill
Phyllis Chapman, Curator
R. Rauschenberg, Calf Startena, Limited Edition Print, 1977
For over five decades, Robert Rauschenberg has existed as a principal character in the Modern and Post-modern art scene. His vibrant dynamic works have provoked, inspired, and aroused a variety of emotion from critics and general public alike.
Born in Port Arthur, Texas in 1925, Milton Rauschenberg first attracted pride and respect from his community with his service in the war hospitals of the Second World War. This time spent caring for wounded soldiers would deeply affect Rauschenberg, who vehemently opposed violent conflict for the rest of his life. The horrors committed toward human beings by human beings appalled him, and his aversion to violence and his quest for peace would often surface in his work for the decades following World War II through the tumultuous Vietnam era and beyond. Returning home, Rauschenberg used his G.I. bill funds to study art in Paris, before enrolling at the legendary Black Mountain College in North Carolina. Beginning a new life with a new first name, the artist Robert Rauschenberg took his first steps toward creative actualization at Black Mountain, where he studied alongside many of the century’s most influential figures, including Merce Cunningham, Willem de Kooning, and Max Dehn. It was not long before Rauschenberg had outgrown the country and headed north to New York City.
New York provided the opportunity and inspiration necessary to catapult Rauschenberg to the forefront of the art revolution. Filled with enthusiasm for popular culture and pop art, Rauschenberg rejected the over-serious ways of the Abstract Expressionists, creating and embracing the first of many original styles he would develop. Drawing on the ideas of Pop Art, Rauschenberg often utilized materials not considered artistic mediums; he splashed canvas with house paint, incorporated Coca-Cola bottles into installations. Rauschenberg’s innovative techniques separated him from the pack, as he created distinctive – and often shocking – works that garnered attention from critics, fellow artists, and the general public. He was the first to silk-screen images onto canvas, which allowed for the inclusion of pop icons and images in fine art works. Many of Rauschenberg’s prints truly embodied the idea of Pop Art, both in their usage of everyday “consumable” medias and with the depiction of easily recognizable individuals or symbols taken directly from popular culture. While these works seem to possess a purely abstract quality, closer examination reveals a relationship between the diverse images. Through this process, Rauschenberg formulated a way to produce a commentary on contemporary society using the very images that helped create that society. Topics such as consumerism, warfare, and global political tensions have been featured in works of Rauschenberg, his one of a kind layered style emphasizing the influx of information experienced by people in the modern world.
While many other factors influenced his art – including the many significant modern artists he worked amongst – many of Rauschenberg’s works reflects a mind wary of technological warfare, Cold War tensions, and a powerful desire for peace. Rauschenberg’s prints from the 1970s depict often commonplace items layered with images of careening vehicles, war machinery, and elaborate blueprints of ominous apparatus. The actual warfare of the 20th century may have ceased, but Cold War tensions were widespread; the presence of possible hostilities existed everywhere, infiltrating everyday life. Rauschenberg could not ignore this reality, capturing it in his works. Spurred by his belief that "one-to-one contact through art" could serve as an effective tool in bridging differences, Rauschenberg launched Rauschenberg Overseas Culture Interchange (ROCI) in 1984. ROCI was a massive undertaking in which photographs, paintings, sculpture, and videos were created and exhibited in eleven countries, from Mexico to Malaysia, and culminated in a 1991 exhibition at the National Gallery of Art, Washington. Rauschenberg visited a variety of countries around the world, including such places as China in hopes of establishing a cultural exchange that would positively contribute to world relations. Included within the ROCI project was the series of prints entitled Soviet/American Array, which brought together photographs he took in the Soviet Union with ones he took in the United States, symbolically connecting cultures that long had been at odds.
Here at Siena College, we are fortunate to possess five of Rauschenberg’s lithographs, or fine art prints. Fine art prints are distinguished by the fact that each work is a unique image created with a printing making technique – in this case, lithography.
Dated 1977 edition 93 out of a 100, Siena possesses five of the six prints referred collectively as the “Chow Series.” These five prints were created from images taken from found animal feed bags, are adorned with fabric swatches and stitched cording, contain multi-layered images, placing machinery over pigs, chemical beakers over birds. These works lend themselves to careful examination, with each glance revealing another layer, another image, another idea. Each image alone possesses meaning, but it is the interaction between the different factors that reveals a message. Rauschenberg acknowledges the sustained existence of regular everyday life with the images of animal feed and livestock but also incorporates images of then cutting-edge machinery, a nod to the future and all the possible – positive or negative – innovations that would affect human kind. Rauschenberg also ventures into the slightly exotic – and ultimately intriguing – with his usage of such animals as mink and monkey. While raising pigs in America would seem normal, the concept of farming monkeys would strike most U.S. inhabitants as strange. Still, Rauschenberg creates and presents his works in such a way that at least one aspect will be recognizable and appealing to every viewer, encouraging closer inspection and interaction between the work and the audience. These multi-faceted prints demonstrate the versatility and depth of Rauschenberg’s extensive oeuvre.
Still actively creating from his studio in Captiva, Florida, Robert Rauschenberg stands as one of the most prolific artists of the 20th century. In his never-ending dedication to the world of art, Rauschenberg founded and directs his own foundation, Change, Inc., a non-profit organization that provides emergency funds for artists, now in its 28th successful year. Also he heads the Robert Rauschenberg Foundation, which started in 1990 is a non-profit entity devoted to projects that will increase public awareness about subjects of vital interest to the artist. They include medical research, education, the environment, the homeless, world hunger and global enhancement of the arts. Robert Rauschenberg’s contributions to contemporary culture are monumental, effecting the lives and minds of several generations.
Sculpture Show at Siena
Siena’s Foy Hall lobby assumed a new vitality during the Spring 2008 semester with the installation of the First Siena Sculpture Show, a collaborative project between the Curator and the Creative Arts Department.
Sculpture Exhibit in Foy Hall
The exhibit of contemporary sculpture from the FAMLI collection was selected, prepared, and installed collaboratively by Professor Pat Trutty-Coohill’s Modern Art class and Phyllis Chapman, curator. Works ranging from small, intimate pieces to the monumental, some from major American sculptors, present a wide variety of materials and styles.
Since the FAMLI art came to Siena nearly three years ago, the sculptures have been the last of the collection to be examined and fully catalogued. The process of selecting and preparing the works for display provided the students and curator with some interesting discoveries, and as many mysteries. Sculptures are nearly always signed; but sculptor’s “marks” are not always easily decipherable. Who, for example, is “JHZ”? Two of a group of similar small pieces are signed; are the other three by the same artist? In their subsequent research, the students gathered fascinating information about the some of the sculptors and the works that enhance our appreciation of the art.
Demonstrating that art and humor mix well, “Botch Gent”, is a whimsical, inventive creature built entirely from scrap salvage iron and tools by Tom Malloy. The engaging, long-tailed creature (thanks to a long iron handle) dangles from an iron pipe stand, staring at us with frank, bevel-gear eyes. In contrast, Alfred VanLoen’s “Cathedral”, a 10 ft. high carved wooden pillar, returns to art that is awe-inspiring, recalling the grandeur of its namesake with its height and arched curves.
The FAMLI sculptures indulge our delight in diversity in materials and forms; from the wide, shiny sweep of aluminum in an as yet unknown piece to the intricacy of Shirley Toran’s paper construction “Iconicus Series”, a carefully hand-gridded and cut three-dimensional paper form covered with delicate strokes and dabs of multi-colored gouache. Five small-scale works in black metal, all presumably by sculptor Tony Rosenthal, explore the endless possibilities of form with the simplest of materials.
The Modern Art class arranged the exhibit well – viewers can around, behind, and beside most of the works, and enjoy them as they were meant to be enjoyed: in the round. They also did a fine job with interpretive labeling, giving concise information about the pieces, and drawing comparisons with other contemporary and traditional art works.
The show will be up through March and into the month of April. The class will be mounting another show later this semester, “Women Artists from FAMLI”, location yet to be determined. Information will be forthcoming.
--February 29, 2008
René Molineaux's Shaker Seeds Installation
Those who have had classes in the Standish Library's Rose & Kiernan Library Instruction Lab often ask about the wooden wall construction that was in progress practically since the building opened in 1999.
1999 beginning framework
Putting in the last piece
Completed work Summer 2007
When the Library was in its planning stages, a committee was formed to advise on art for the building. Gary Thompson, Library Director, knew that René Molineaux, Lead Instructional Technologist in I&TS, had an art background and approached him back in 1998 to see if he would be interested in submitting a proposal. Among his submissions was the design for Shaker Seeds, and it was accepted. In addition, René applied for and was awarded a grant from the New York State Foundation for the Arts to assist in the purchase of materials.
The completed work measures approximately 6 feet high and 18 feet long. It is constructed of cedar shakes, wood scraps and found objects assembled into a cutaway wall.
In a statement that he posted as he was working on Shaker Seeds René states that, "In a library, time witnesses a building accumulation of knowledge, experience and things. It's a positive accumulation that gradually becomes better and more useful as it ages. Only after years of collecting (and weeding) does a library really hit its stride as a great tool. This piece will offer a different experience to the viewer at a distance than it will to the viewer up close. It will be a combination of detail and texture with a pleasing overall pattern. The name is a pun, of course, but allows me to imply meaning associated with the handmade simplicity of Shaker furnishings, tools and architecture. A sensibility that precedes much of what we see in this geographical area today." At the official unveiling on March 4, 2008, Molineaux provided a more discursive statement about the work and his artistic vision of Shaker Seeds.
René graduated from Fordham University, Lincoln Center campus, with a B.A. degree with emphasis in the fine arts. While there he also took studio art courses at the Art Students League of New York. He has a strong library empathy due to his having earned a Masters in Library Science from the University at Albany.
The Instruction Lab is normally locked when classes are not being held in the room. If you would like to see Shaker Seeds at other times please contact the Reference Librarian on duty.
--March 1, 2008
Man's Best Friend
Dillinger: The Great Mason City Raid
FAMLI Art Makes Campus Debut with Print Exhibit
Over two years ago, Siena College received a major gift of contemporary art from the Fine Arts Museum of Long Island, which had shut down operations in 2000. This important acquisition included paintings, prints, photographs and sculptures from an impressive variety of artists from all over the world.
After a lengthy process of identification, cataloguing, and researching, some of these excellent works are now making a public re-appearance in new exhibits on campus. These exhibits have been designed not merely as “re-decoration”: while they may be a pleasure to look at, they also express a wide variety of expression and cultural content.
The first floor of Siena Hall is the site for a new exhibit, “Prints from the FAMLI Collection.” In fine art printmaking, an artist employs one of several printing methods to create multiples of the same image. First gaining importance in the early years of the printing press as a means for reproducing illustrations, printmaking techniques such as woodcut, etching, and lithography eventually became fine art media in their own right.
The prints in the Siena Hall exhibit represent each of the printmaking techniques- including experimental and contemporary types such as the collagraph- and have been created by artists from all over the globe. Works by important artists like Ben Shahn, Sonia Delaunay, Richard Lindner and Karel Appel hang with lesser known fine printmakers such as Australian Dorrit Black, Japanese-American Risaburo Kimura, and the Palestinian artist Juliana Seraphim.
The subject matter these artworks have extensive relevance educationally and multiculturally to both students and faculty. Topics addressed or alluded to by these images include the civil rights struggle in America, the science of color and form, the Holocaust, Nobel Prize winners, technology and modern life, and popular culture, among others too numerous to mention. An informative brochure about the pieces will soon be available in the exhibit, and any faculty or students wishing more in-depth information can contact Phyllis Chapman, Curator of Fine Arts, at 782-6704 or at the Standish Library.
The Library is also a good source of information about prints and printmaking. Suggestions include The Print in the Western World, by Linda C. Hults, and The Art of the Print, by Fritz Eichenberg for background on the history or printmaking; Printmaking: History and Process, by Donald Saff and Deli Sacilotto and How to Identify Prints, by Bamber Gascoigne for details on printmaking techniques; and Prints and People, by A. Hyatt Mayor for the social, cultural and political impact prints have had throughout history.
In addition to the print exhibit in Siena Hall, original paintings from the FAMLI collection are on display on Siena Hall’s third floor. Further information about them, and the artists, is forthcoming. Other FAMLI works on display include a jute wall hanging, “Lambrigi”, designed by sculptor Alexander Calder, which hangs in Foy Hall, and, soon to come, a selection of Risaburo Kimura’s “Great Cities of the World” serigraphs in the .Com Conference Room in Sarazen Hall.