Summer 2016

Inside the studio

With varying styles, materials, and scales, works by Colgate’s studio art professors filled Clifford Gallery in the spring — giving visitors a glimpse at what they do outside of the classroom. The exhibition highlighted their varied individual talents in digital art, installation art, printmaking, sculpture, photography, and painting.

“I think about it as a kind of potluck,” Professor Lynn Schwarzer said. “You never know what’s going to appear, and it’s always really fun to see how the works talk to each other.”

Some professors created new work for the exhibition, while others chose previously completed pieces. DeWitt Godfrey’s installation Luttel (pictured above, photo by Mark Williams) — made from Corten steel cylinders and bolts stacked high enough to dwarf visitors — was an idea he’d had a while ago, but hadn’t yet executed. As the exhibition got closer, he said, he got to thinking that the height of three cylinders in a row was slightly taller than the ceiling. He had wanted to experiment with wedging something between a floor and a ceiling and happened to have the material left over from another installation.

“I’m interested in how materials behave, so the shapes you see are all due to the gravity and the pressure,” Godfrey said. “The ones on the bottom are the most compressed, and the top ones are pretty much in their full shape.”

Next to Godfrey’s installation, Schwarzer’s First Transmissions was composed of tiny prints and images she paired together. One frame, for example, paired an image from the first televised presidential debate with the first photograph of the moon. As a printmaker with a background in film and media studies, Schwarzer wanted to look at “the history of recording and transmitting images through film and photography, and to probe claims on ‘documenting reality,’” she said. “Reminiscent of a View-Master or stereoscope, the small images are paired in relationships that challenge notions of authority and gender; quests to see the ‘unseen’; and sometimes, just celebrate the absurd.”

Schwarzer added that she wanted them to be tiny “so you had to look carefully to see them, in the same way that you might look into a pair of binoculars. You kind of cut out the rest of the world, and you just see what’s going on with these two little [images], so I wanted that intimate scale.”

Camille Strøe ’16, who took courses with several of the department’s professors, said her time in their classes led to an appreciation of their works.

“Seeing this installation gives me a new respect for them as mentors because it is clear that they are constantly working and evolving, learning alongside us,” said Strøe. “It was really fun to engage with them in this new setting and see what makes them tick.”

— Jessica Rice ’16

Maroon on the red carpet

Photo of a man with a mask from the independent film that Rod Blackhurst '02 produced and directed.

At the Tribeca Film Festival, Rod Blackhurst ’02 took home the Audience Award for Best Narrative Feature with Here Alone, an independent film that he produced and directed.

The opening of the 2016 Tribeca Film Festival brought together some of the biggest names in Hollywood — J.J. Abrams, Joss Whedon, and Catherine Hardwicke, to name a few. It also shone a spotlight on several Colgate people who are making a name for themselves in the entertainment industry.

Rod Blackhurst ’02 took home the Audience Award for Best Narrative Feature with Here Alone, an independent film that he produced and directed. In this post-apocalyptic thriller, a young woman struggles to survive on her own in the wake of a mysterious, zombie-spawning epidemic that has forced her into the unforgiving wilderness of upstate New York. The film explores the conflict between emotional and physical survival as well as the meaning of family in times of extreme hardship.

Writing that the “Tribeca film festival proves the zombie formula isn’t dead,” Maxim magazine gave high praise for Blackhurst’s film, which was financed without the help of any major studios. Much of the funding came from a successful Kickstarter campaign established by Blackhurst, who also took on the task of casting, approaching lead actress Lucy Walters through Twitter.

This homespun method seems to have paid off for Blackhurst, who said, “We thought Here Alone would appeal to fans of well-crafted psychological dramatic thrillers and elevated genre films — again showing our understanding of what it requires to tell a simple and powerful story.”

Blackhurst, who was a French literature major at Colgate, previously directed the short film Would You, which was nominated as an official selection at both the 2012 SXSW and the 2012 Palm Springs Shorts Festival. His other work includes the 2014 visual rebranding of Airbnb and three Vimeo Staff Picks, including the short Alone Time, which earned a 2013 Best of Vimeo award. He is currently directing a feature-length documentary about the Amanda Knox trial for Netflix and developing the dramatic feature North, based on the short story by Matthew Wade Jordan.

Another Colgate filmmaker, Professor Penny Lane (art and art history), also made waves at Tribeca, although not due to a film of her own. Lane — whose most recent documentary Nuts! premiered at the 2016 Sundance Festival — penned an open letter calling for the removal of the controversial film Vaxxed from the Tribeca lineup. The film — which discusses the (now-disproved) link between vaccinations and autism — was directed and co-written by Andrew Wakefield, based on research that he published in the Lancet in 1998. In 2010, The Lancet fully retracted the paper, and Britain’s General Medical Council revoked Wakefield’s UK medical license.

Lane wrote in her letter: “Tribeca Film Festival, I love you but you made a very serious mistake… There is a big difference between advocacy and fraud, between point of view and deception. For you to claim there is no difference helps to perpetuate Wakefield’s fraud.”

Lane’s letter was covered by a number of news outlets, including Variety, CBS News, and the New York Times, and added to a public outcry that led to Vaxxed being removed from Tribeca’s itinerary.

And although this year’s festival has seen more Raider representation than usual, there has always been a Colgate tie to Tribeca. Craig Hatkoff ’76 co-founded it with his wife and Robert De Niro in 2002 in order to reinvigorate the New York City neighborhood after 9/11.

— Brianna Delaney ’19

Gallery-turned–storage room

Photo of the masks and figures

(Photo by Mark Williams)

Featuring rows of masks, figures, and textiles, the Opening the Africa Collection exhibition at the Longyear Museum of Anthropology was intended to replicate the feeling of being in a collection storage facility. It was on display from April through June.

The exhibition featured 164 objects from the museum’s African collection, presented in an “open storage” format “behind glass with little explanatory text, but in a way that the entire collection can be viewed as a mass of objects,” explained Mary Moran, professor of anthropology and Africana and Latin American studies.

“We grouped them like they would be in storage, so we had all the masks together, all the figures together, and all the stools together,” said assistant curator Christy DeLair.

“This is important for talking with students about the politics of collecting, especially in a colonial context, and the implications of certain kinds of representations of Africa through the use of objects,” Moran added.

Some objects had an identification tag around them to help with teaching purposes, while others were only explained by cards next to the cases.

Moran led the exhibition planning with help from students in the course Introduction to African Studies as well as other student volunteers. During the course, students generated themes about the objects and addressed five main themes in writing interpretive panels.

The panels raise questions about beauty, authenticity, the way museum collections have been formed historically, and the issues with how cultural material is represented and displayed, according to DeLair. For example, Emily Jacobs ’19 wrote a panel that said: “Whenever possible, it is best for museum curators to consult not only experts on the subject, but also individuals from the culture or place in question so that they can properly attest to the exhibit’s legitimacy and proper representation.”

— Jessica Rice ’16

Intersections through art 

In three of this year’s senior studio art projects, the students intersected a deeply personal topic with an aspect of their liberal arts experience — from racial identification and psychology, to form and function.

Sugar, cream of tartar, wood, steel, Plexiglas, and LED lights 

Photo of artwork

(Photo by Mark Williams)

For 18 years, my life revolved around the sport I love — football. This sculpture confronts absence and transition — being forced to leave something you love behind — and combines different materials to show brokenness. It recreates and duplicates the body and the equipment used to protect it, both damaged over the years I’ve played. The 18 bricks symbolize the seasons I was able to play. The bricks, made of sugar and fragments of a football helmet, no longer perform their respective normative functions. The light table illuminates the inner beauty of the bricks and fragments they contain and protect. Just as the shards of helmet encased in sugar are out of action, my life as a football player is eternally suspended in time.

— John Wilkins IV ’17

When Two Walls Meet
Micron pen drawings digitally printed on Stonehenge paper 

Photo of pen drawings artwork

(Photo by Mark Williams)

This piece is based on my experience in an unhealthy relationship — one marked by control, dependence, and overall misalignment. For me, the repetition and magnitude of these issues, as well as the difficulty of fixing or escaping them, increased over time as new layers of complexity were revealed. I chose wallpaper as a medium because of my interest in architecture, and because of its ability to function metaphorically. As humans, we not only build our environment architecturally; we also build an environment that exists between ourselves and anyone we have a relationship with.

— Catherine Chen ’16

Pen, ink, and watercolor on Arches cover paper

Photo of 3 selected portraits.

(Photo by Mark Williams)

These are selections from a series of portraits intended to explore my ethnic heritage and how that “look” has evolved over several generations. I created nine portraits of several generations of my family, trying to focus mainly on facial features and eliminating the variables of age and fashion. This dovetailed with my senior psychology project, which examined gender and racial identification.

— Jennifer Ho ’17