Queen of Soul highlights performing arts weekend
Under the glow of disco ball lights twinkling on the ceiling, many people didn’t stay in their seats when Aretha Franklin took to the stage in Sanford Field House on March 5. Franklin and her orchestra pulled in a crowd of more than 4,100 for a special weekend celebrating the performing arts at Colgate.
The Colgate Chamber Singers, backed up by a student and faculty band, warmed up the crowd with lively renditions of Motown, Stevie Wonder, and Jackson Five tunes.
Then, when Franklin opened with her 1987 hit (with George Michael) “I Knew You Were Waiting for Me,” both longtime fans and new ones were on their feet, bopping at their seats or dancing in the aisles.
During the performance, Franklin delivered favorites from throughout her career, like “Think” and “Freeway of Love.” She also belted out covers from her new album, Aretha Franklin Sings the Great Diva Classics, including “Rolling in the Deep” (Adele), “People” (Barbra Streisand), and a tribute to Natalie Cole with “Inseparable.” And when it came to her signature tune, the Queen of Soul didn’t disappoint, pulling out “Respect” as her encore.
More than 1,000 alumni and parents came to campus to steep themselves in the weekend of performing arts. Events included University Theater’s production of Erin Courtney’s A Map of Virtue; a dance performance featuring student groups; a lecture/demonstration on jazz by saxophonist Glenn Cashman and friends; and a Colgate Chamber Players recital featuring works by Mozart, Moszkowski, and more.
From family moments to campus life to selfies, student photography filled a spring-semester exhibition called Captured by the Lens.
The exhibition was the culminating work of 12 students in the fall course Photography: Anthropology and Archaeology, taught by Nick Shepherd, the A. Lindsay O’Connor Professor of American institutions. Shepherd based the idea on his book, The Mirror in the Ground: Archaeology, Photography, and the Making of a Disciplinary Archive, which dealt with “archival photographs of archaeologists at work in Africa, from the 1920s to the 1950s,” he explained. “I saw this as a great opportunity to pick up on some of the themes and ideas from the book, in a classroom setting,” Shepherd said.
Addressing themes of objectification, humanization, self-stylization, and even selfie culture, the exhibition explored “how people capture one another through the medium of photography,” said Sarah Horowitz, curatorial assistant at the Picker Art Gallery and Longyear Museum of Anthropology. “In many ways, the work is a social commentary on the students’ reactions to their everyday world, and how that relates to their lives as students.”
Shepherd explained: “I wanted students not only to be reading and thinking about these issues, but also practicing and thinking about what it means to take photographs and curate them in a public exhibition.”
Some projects tackled current events at Colgate. A number of students “looked at selfies as an emergent genre of images, and at the role that social media and selfie culture play in student life,” Shepherd said. “Others worked in quite an inward way from the basis of their own experiences, or experiences of people close to them.”
Madison Bailey ’18 explained that one of her photographs — with the working title Flathands — shows her dad’s hands and an injury that he sustained while working in an aerospace machinery factory when he was younger. “I owe everything to my dad for allowing me to show the world an imperfection that he deals with and transforming it into a celebration of the unique,” Bailey said.
The exhibition was on display at the Longyear Museum of Anthropology, Creative Arts House, and the Thought Into Action Entrepreneurship Institute.
— Jessica Rice ’16
Out of the ordinary
Renowned South African artist William Kentridge reflects on a lifetime of work and reimagines elements of everyday life in the exhibition Universal Archive, on display at the Picker Art Gallery until May 15.
More than 75 of Kentridge’s linocut prints are featured in the exhibition, depicting images of coffee makers, trees, birds, and typewriters, most of which are printed on pages of the Oxford English Dictionary. The prints are based on an earlier set of ink drawings that he produced.
“It’s Kentridge reflecting upon his overall body of work, and certain subject matters that are reoccurring throughout,” explained Sarah Horowitz, curatorial assistant. “He’s trying to document what we think are these ordinary objects, and how they are part of our overall understanding or knowledge of the world.”
The traveling exhibition from the Gund Gallery at Kenyon College was adapted for its time at the Picker. Two sculptures, titled Nose II (Walking), were brought to the gallery on loan from the collections of Anne M. Huntington ’07 and Ahmar and Noreen Ahmad.
In preparation for the exhibition, Daniel Serrano ’16 conducted extensive research on Kentridge’s work. He did much of that research with Jessie Cohen, a scholar from the David Krut Workshop in Johannesburg, where the Universal Archive print series was produced. Then, Serrano considered different elements to add to the show. Serrano and Cohen worked with the workshop to obtain two rare documentary films on view and photographs of Kentridge creating some of the pieces on display in his studio in Johannesburg.
“It was interesting to decide which piece of video art would work best to show Kentridge’s abilities with a different medium, but would also flow seamlessly with the print materials being exhibited,” said Serrano.
In addition, Natalie Ramirez ’19 and Serrano gave tours of the exhibition during the opening, and wrote labels for a few of Kentridge’s pieces on display from their extended research on his work with Cohen. They also helped create a docent program for the exhibition.
“Kentridge’s work is full of nuances, metaphors, and figures that make the viewer question what they actually know about the object they are looking at,” Ramirez said. “Especially with this exhibit, each print seems like a still in a film, allowing viewers to narrate their own story.”
— Jessica Rice ’16
VACANCY in CNY
Collaboration is at the heart of the artistic works of Chris Adler ’11 and Ali Edmark ’12. The Los Angeles–based couple, who co-direct and curate their gallery, VACANCY, visited central New York this winter to connect with local artists. They were offered a joint opportunity at Colgate and at Utica’s Sculpture Space, by Professor DeWitt Godfrey and his wife, Monika Burczyk, respectively.
Sculpture Space hosts between 18 and 20 artists in residence annually, providing a supportive environment for experimentation and creation. Burczyk, the director, is trying out a program that would bring back alumni artists from area colleges for a joint residency program with their alma maters and Sculpture Space.
While at Sculpture Space, Adler and Edmark curated the exhibition Soft Remove at a graduate student–run space at Syracuse University called Random Access. The pair fabricated all work on site by using instructions sent in from artists around the world.
In addition to running VACANCY, Adler and Edmark work as an artistic pair, combining digital media with everyday objects to form expansive installations. They used part of their time at Sculpture Space to explore a new body of photo-based sculptures made from folded large-format prints.
Meanwhile, at Colgate, Adler and Edmark advised senior art majors on their final projects — something close to their hearts, because they both created their own projects within the last five years. The seniors, who were approximately two months from installing their projects when they met with the artists, each presented what they were working on.
“Visiting at a pivotal moment in the project, it was fun for us to talk to them about things that hadn’t quite come together yet, helping to form the discourse around the work,” Edmark said.
In addition, the duo gave real-world advice to the students. “We tried to pass along a Colgate perspective,” Adler said. “Like what to expect when you’re transitioning from a small undergrad experience, and how to navigate that when moving out into the wider spheres of art practice.”
In all, the couple met with eight senior studio art majors, who had all been assigned spaces at the Paul J. Schupf Studio Arts Center.
“It was really cool to talk with artists who have graduated from Colgate and to see where their paths have taken them,” said Sara Hinton ’16. “Ali and Chris were so helpful in discussing our projects, because they completely understood the struggle. Chris explained that a lot of what he is working on now relates to themes he explored in his senior project at Colgate.”
— Emma Loftus ’16