Thursday, April 29, 2010

"Catalogue Entries"

As an exercise, the students of the Art Museum Theory and Methodology course at SUCO (Spring 2010) wrote entries for a virtual catalogue to accompany the exhibition at the Martin-Mullen Gallery.

Each entry describes the artwork and discusses it utilizing a theoretical methodology, or "view", such as feminism, psychoanalysis, or postmodernism.


"Hand's Bloom" by B.B.

Nadin Kayserian
Hand’s Bloom, 2009.
Stone (unknown, possibly Alabaster),13” x 6 ¼” x 4 ¾”.
Martin-Mullen Art Gallery,
State University of New York College at Oneonta.
The sculpture presents a rough hand, almost claw-like that emanates a “life force” evoking the purity and enlightenment of a lotus flower. From its organic beginnings, Hand’s Bloom evolves into a biomorphic Surrealist form resonating with a refined beauty and eloquence that captivates the viewer. The elongated shadows cast by the work express the flow of energy radiating from the stone. With each individually carved finger, Ms. Kayserian invites the spectator to partake in the essence of Hand’s Bloom.
The dichotomy of the composition’s surface relates to samsara – the Buddhist cycle of rebirth. As the lotus grows out of the still water and mud of the pond, it leaves the mud (worldly existence) behind to emerge straight toward the sky, appear clean on the surface (purity), and blossoms into a beautiful flower (enlightenment). The flower opens its petals to catch the warm sun rays, reveals its beauty and purity, and shares its fragrance with the world. Hand’s Bloom was inspired by the words of Hindu Prince Gautama Siddhartha, the founder of Buddhism (563-483 B.C.): “As a lotus flower is
born in water, grows in water and rises out of water to stand above it unsoiled, so I, born
in the world, raised in the world having overcome the world, live unsoiled by the
world.” Carved out of the traditions of Buddhism, Hand’s Bloom is rich with its iconography.
The sculpture references mudras, the Sanskrit word for the stylized hand gestures (literally a sign or a seal) depicted in Buddhist art. Each mudra expresses a meaning and is often used as a symbolic gesture in rituals and meditation. Kayserian’s Hand’s Bloom correlates to Bhumisparsha Mudra, or a gesture of touching the earth. “The mudra recalls the historical Buddha’s path to enlightenment, when he asked the earth to bear witness to his worthiness to become a Buddha.” The sculpted hand is a visualization of the tenacity associated with the historical Buddha.
Beyond the symbolic representation, the artist was affected by the Buddhist themed music and music videos of the three time Grammy Award winning progressive metal band Tool – particularly the group’s videos for the singles “Vicarious” (the first computer-generated imagery), “Parabola” and the innovative album art of Alex Grey. This California rock band has been exploring alternative music since 1990. Tool was described by Patrick Donovan, chief music writer of The Age as, "The thinking person's metal band – cerebral and visceral, soft and heavy, melodic and abrasive, tender and brutal, familiar and strange, western and eastern, beautiful and ugly, taut yet sprawling and epic, they are a tangle of contradictions." Alex Grey (born 1953) is an American artist specializing in spiritual and visionary art often associated with New Age. His artwork is featured on Tool’s “Lateralus” album and forms the stage design – massive reproductions of the album’s artwork – for the band’s corresponding tour. Grey’s artistry is the creative force behind the computer-generated imagery for “Vicarious.”
Kayserian’s preliminary design was a lotus blossom, but the shape of the raw stone developed into Hand’s Bloom. She carved an “ugly” hand to mimic the murky pond waters of existence. Kayserian wanted the viewer to be repulsed by the abrasive digits and drawn to the soft, rounded, smooth texture and pristine qualities of the “bloom” – from worldly existence to purity and enlightenment. The artist “hoped the observer would see the shapes and want to touch them.” She chose to leave the hand part of the sculpture grossly chiseled and unpolished yielding “a dusty, whitish-gray color” contributing to the unattractive qualities and reflecting “the beautiful flower growing out of a disgusting pond.” She was delighted when the highly polished shapes revealed this explosion of color – “swirls of reds, greens and browns with stripes and specks of crystal” – in effect, a spectrum of energy. The piece was executed by hand using a sculpting hammer and chisel in her 2009 fall semester Sculpture I class; it was Kayserian’s first work completed in stone. Hand’s Bloom fulfilled the assignment to complete a sculpture and explore the subtractive method by carving forms and spaces in stone with emphasis on the positive and negative form, as well as on the surface qualities of the materials. The sculpture is a beautiful means of bringing subtle, inner realities to a focus in outward expression.
The artist is a senior Computer Arts major at the State University of New York College at Oneonta. After graduation in May, 2010, Kayserian will begin an internship in New York City at Motion Capture NYC where she will use motion capture technology for their parent company, VLC Global. She hopes to pursue a career in this field and eventually work in film or television.

Richard A. Gard, Buddhism. Great religions of modern man. New York: G. Braziller, 1961, 75 – 81.

Ibid., 84 -87.

Richard A. Gard, Buddhism. Great Religions of Modern Man. New York: G. Braziller, 1961, 79 – 81.

Ibid., 74.

Ibid., 87 – 95.

Ibid., 97.

Patrick Donovan, Music Reviews, Fairfax Digital, Sydney, Australia, 1991,, 23 April, 2010.


Alex Grey,, MicroCoSM Gallery, New York, 1999,, 24 April, 2010.


Interview with the Artist, April 22, 2010.




Interview with the Artist, April 22, 2010.


Syllabus, Sculpture I.

"Exposure" by R.D.

Exposure by Genevieve Pedulla:
Interpreted through the view of Griselda Pollock’s piece The “View from Elsewhere”
“Exposure” by Genevieve Pedulla can be interpreted as an expression of a young woman’s journey of reclaiming her identity through feminist thought. In order to portray this crossing-over experience into self-defining and self-identity, it takes more than just one photograph to convey a process that has taken a person’s entire lifetime thus far; which is why the entire set of “Exposure” was grouped together as one in this catalogue entry. This photograph series has managed to convey a sense of honesty from the artist that expresses a sense of green naivety and yet raw jaggedness at the same time.
This conveyance of frankness derives from the perspective of one young woman reinterpreting herself through a feminist mindset. This painting subtly portrays an inner quest to reanalyze oneself in regard to questions of sexuality and representation, spectatorship and power. When one grows up in a patriarchal society, it is only natural and expected to view through a male lens in which deconstruction of such thinking can turn into a lifetime process. Once one makes the commitment it becomes extremely difficult to find your way out of what is known as the “matrix of patriarchy.”
One of the reasons why this is so hard to do is because all existing histories (art history included) and theories of reading, writings, sexuality, ideology, or any other cultural production are built on male narratives of gender, bound by the heterosexual contract; narratives which persistently reproduce themselves in feminist theories. This tends to happen, and will do so unless one constantly resists and critiques others analysis and interpretations as well as one’s own.
As the artist of this piece expresses her own personal struggle through identifying herself outside of the definitions and expectations of patriarchy, a self conflicting dichotomy unravels across the set of photographs. How does a developing mind already unsure of the complexities of life and self-worth manage to find new answers to questions that have already been explained by men a thousand times, redefining definitions that have been set in stone for generations, or figuring out how to interact in society when gender roles are all you have ever known? What you get is a young woman’s expression of feministic growing pains, subtle contradictions that the inner self either has not noticed or quite figured out how to solve yet, and a healing process embarking towards a brighter, more fulfilled future.
This construction of gender which takes place through the interlaced processes of representation and self-representation that all Western Art and high culture ‘engraves’ on the individual as “technologies of gender.” What the artist tries to do in her series of photographs is to equally become a medium for radical deconstruction of gender. As her tattoos become a mechanism for communication in her photographs, the importance lies in the tattoos themselves as well as where they are placed. One of her tattoos she makes into the focal point of two photographs which are an ambiguous cluster of belonged ovals that are centered on her hip. One could interpret this as the ceaselessly unanswered question of what is true womanhood.
When one looks at how the tattoos further convey the meaning of the photography set as a whole, once notices the placement of tattoos share a bilinear relationship between the intimate and practical parts of the body, showcase not only what her redefining of sexuality into sensuality, but also the practical parts that usually do not get included on the feminine pedestal including, the arms that can be used to hold a child or the back that bears life’s burdens.
In this series of photographs, the artist defines herself and by extension humanity’s womanhood outside the confines of class and consumption; bringing the female essence to its most basic form. The artist is a woman exposing her own womanhood that represents an essence that is inherent in all women. This very act is reclaiming worth to a particular perception that is so commonly in our patriarchal society overlooked and undervalued. To patriarchy, not all women hold value; only certain bodies are worthy of male desire.
One can tell that certain photographs focus on portraying a high value for womanhood. One in particular bears striking similarities to one of Edvard Munch’s pieces “Madonna.” Both Portray a young woman with her eyes closed, arms removed or position in a way that leaves the breasts jutting out completely exposed, but the artist does put some unique twist on her own interpretation of this painting. The young woman in the photography set is covered in a wet white sheet that leaves a vague image that Evard Munch simply interpreted and abstracted. It is also different in the fact that the photograph is from a woman representing a woman and not just a man’s interpretation of a female model. This brings new meaning to the photography piece as it conveys not only how a woman’s sexuality leaves vulnerability, but also how woman can reclaim their bodies through art,
This not only provides woman with self-given/self-received respect, but also an unspoken “talking cure” that helps enable women to endure the struggles that exist in a patriarchal society. Using art as a form of art therapy and an alternative means of communication of expression, the artist conveys her own self-worth and value of women in society. This is important when considering that there is equally a “listening cure” that is a natural part of therapy for women.
Through the artist’s expression of feministic identity, she not only manages to redefine one’s sense of self, but also many important aspects of women’s lives including, sexuality into sensuality and the just as important components of intimacy and practicality that all women hold and what should be equally celebrated and cherished. Reclaiming one’s self in a patriarchal society is not something you check off on your “to do list,” but rather a journey you pursue each day with each analysis that happens within the privacy of your own thoughts and the actions you make outside, The very act of a woman showcasing art is feministic, but Genevieve Pedulla goes a step further by giving art a purpose towards the betterment of all woman.

Flower Pot by A.A.

The Flower pot on display in the Martin-Mullen Art Gallery at SUNY Oneonta, is a sculpture of color and vibrance. Sabrina Niewiadomski created this piece for her 3D sculpture class. The colors and shapes make this a unique piece. But why did she make a pot full of flowers? The whole class is set around different project with different methodologies. This class readies the artist for a eclectic idea of sculpture. A great well-rounded class centered around all different elements.
One point of this project is that of taking certain shapes created by the students. Specifically made, these shapes have certain measurements so that all of the students have a sculpture made of the same shapes, but everyone’s looks different. The point is to create something creative, and well made, but while staying within the confines of the shapes. Sabrina decided to instead of making something abstract and intangible, she made something finite, and recognizable. Being in that she wanted to make something recognizable, she decided to stick to simplicity. Making the flower pot was exciting she said. She really had been discouraged by her art classes, and finally came back to the feeling of childhood with her sculpture.
Childhood art projects are always fun. Creating something colorful and fun brought the child back out for Sabrina. Creating art as a child your work is never judged, or criticized and being in college for art can be competitive. She felt like she was always on trial, but creating this sculpture, it reminded her of why she is attending SUNY Oneonta in the first place; fun. She loves bright colors, big shapes and a big size, which are all incorporated in her piece. The carboard cut outs and tubes are created by her, and it’s quite funny that her tubes are actually toilet paper tubes connected, and then wrapped in brown paper.
The feminist side of Sabrina came out as well. Flowers are very feminine, and full of symbolism in art, and also just for women. Expressing her feminism side through making flowers expresses her desire to make the role of women in today’s society more exceptable. Sabrina succeeded in capturing the symbolism of women, but while not being overly feminine.
While trying not to be too feminine, the flowers in this flower pot can be made into a masculine phallic symbol as well. I think that Sabrina didn’t think about the phallic element of her sculpture, but I think it is still worthy to write about. The two juxtaposition of the two sexes in this piece are interesting. When learning about the anatomy of flowers in school, you learn that flowers are A Sexual. Which means that they contain the both genders in one biological life. Flowers spontaneously spread their pollen and spread their seed. Thinking of how I was going to write analytically, or metamorphically about this piece, it never occurred to me to think in terms of gender, but the flower encompasses all they need to expand their reach in terms of population. They don’t need a female, or a male, only themselves. Being close to Sabrina, I know that she wants to expand her love life to include just one person. Being in love with one person, and not being alone. But making this sculpture in the tune of two genders in one as a flower is, I feel like it could have helped her deal with the stress of being single.
Sabrina is a unique individual who appreciates the wonders of being a child, and making art as a child created the love of art, and continuing her education with art is expanding her life to another end that she never though she could get. She has grown as an artist and as an individual.

"Sew the Tradition Continues" by C.R.

Sew The Tradition Continues Is one of the many Art works that was entered into the 2010 Annual Juried Student Art Exhibition. Rebecca Robinson, who is the artist of this piece, is one of the several senior students that submitted a variety of fine arts projects. Robinson is an Art Studio major with a concentration in painting. With several other of her entries being paintings, Sew The Tradition Continues uniquely different from the rest of her works. Made from a variety of materials, this mixed media entry is feminine and quaint. Sew The Tradition Continues will be displayed from April 12-May 22, 2010 at The State University Of Oneonta Martine-Mullen Art Gallery.
The piece was created in the schools Artist Books class which introduces the dynamic field of Artists Books. With the new artist form rising rapidly since the early 1980’s, several schools have decided to introduce this art category into the curriculum. Artist books have explored both traditional and innovative book structures; Sew The Tradition Continues does this precisely. In the Suny Oneonta class, the teacher’s objective is to allow the student to develop a broad spectrum of theoretical approaches as well as design. The intensions of Artist Books, is that students will produce a number of sculptural book objects with a strong conceptual base. Aesthetic consideration is brought to this class from, Drawing, Design, Photography, Printmaking, Sculpture, Painting, Ceramics, and Computer Art. The combination of artistic skills and concepts produce this new artistic field of complimentary components.
In the Creation of Rebecca’s Artist Book, she experimented with dress patterns by fusing two pieces together to create a translucent sheet that was durable and aesthetical. With a durable medium, Robinson was able to sew the material and apply fabric using web fusing. With these materials she created the skirt for the dress that represented pages of her book. Rebecca handwrote her story on the folded dress skirt, the story tells about her first introduction to sewing. The story then proceeds on to tell how she learned different techniques from her mother and further how sewing weaved its way in and out of her life for the past thirty years. The Bodice of the dress holds the quotes from her daughter on the learning process of sewing. She used a translucent fabric to randomly sew these quotes onto the dress. Rebecca initial struggled for the title and finally came up with Sew The Tradition Continues, which was quite an appropriate title for such an Artists Book. The base of Rebecca Robinson’s book b is a traditional mannequin.
Sew The Tradition Continues is a twofold, as Rebecca Robinson created her book she also taught her daughter to sew. She was taken by her daughter’s interest and excitement to learn the new skill of sewing. Unplanned for the two to go hand and hand, Robinson was thrilled for the tradition of sewing to give her such inspiration for her Artist Book. Subsequently, Robinson bought her daughter a small sewing machine so the two could work side by side as she created her book. Surprised by her daughter’s perseverance she was enthralled that her daughter was actively working on straight stitches, moving the fabric around, backing up and asking all the right questions. The concept for Robinson’s book was based on her love for sewing, and how she learned sewing for her mother, as well as how she was passing her knowledge of sewing to her daughter. Though the means for sewing changed from one generation to the next, it is unique in that all the women that inspirited Robinson’s artist book had a desire to create.
The mannequin in Rebecca’s Artist Book speaks volumes about her work. This articulated female figure is often used by artists, tailors, dressmakers, and others especially when displaying clothing, so it is only appropriate that Robinson used the mannequin as her base. Sadly the female mannequin is an idealized female body, with no legs or features other than the ever so prominent hourglass torso. Robinson’s inspiration came from her childhood. Not coming from a wealthy family, Robinson often made clothes for her dolls and Barbie’s. Learning to sew at an early age allowed Robinson to create and design clothing at a young age, thus permitting her to create a wardrobe of variety for her small framed idol. With Barbie being one of the most iconic hourglass shapes, it is understandable that Robinson after years and years of sewing toy clothing, drew inspiration from Barbie’s figure. Both mannequins and Barbie are identified as surprisingly sexual female figures, in which young children constantly associate themselves with. With the bust and hips of the mannequin/Barbie almost the same size, and the waist minuscule in comparison. The female body standard is being portrayed to be unrealistically small like mannequins and Barbie. It allows viewers to perceive the female figure as an object, instead of being a subject, giving it a promiscuous connotation. This iconic figure is recognizable to every western woman; it has influence and changed the thoughts and feelings of the female self-image from decades. Fortunately, children in today’s generation have different views on self-image. Luckily, with Women such as Robinson influence children to be creative and innovative, to learn through curiosity and not demand.
Sew The Tradition Continues is more than just a glance back at a childhood. It is a flash back in to the reality of materialism in America. Robinson’s humble childhood inspired many phases of her life. Barbie may not have prompted a national crisis in female self-esteem, but it certainly touched many lives nationwide. The vampy fashion doll helped to bring about the sexualization of childhood, evidence of which is everywhere today. Fortunately Rebecca Robinson’s daughter desire to sew came from the joy of watching her mother’s creative and artist abilities, and not from the desire to make Barbie even more materialistic than she already is. The beauty of the project lies with in the custom. Three generations of sewers, three different women, and one beautifully formed Artist Book.