Tuesday, April 25, 2017

Senior Shows at Alfred University

 ALFRED:  Clay, paint, cardboard, glass, brass, bronze and sometimes broken bikes are all interesting because they can, and in Alfred often do, become ideas to spark conversation and encourage thought.
                Some people gravitate toward one particular material and push it, pull it, twist it, fold it and decorate it to tell the rest of us their ideas and questions. Sarah Paschkes has been putting her ideas into paintings and ceramics this year for both her Honor Thesis and Senior Show. The show opens on Saturday, May 6 from 4-7 pm and, for Sarah, will be on the first floor of Binns-Merrill Hall.
                Sarah has concentrations in painting and ceramics so uses two studio spaces to produce her work. Her show will bring paintings and ceramics together to explore this idea: Overturning the Trope of the Cute Animal as a Sidekick.
                Sarah spoke of her thoughts on Pokémon and other worlds where main characters have a “cute animal sidekick.” Pokémon creatures, for example, are captured and to a small degree cared for but also blithely given away or put into a gym to fight. She feels that the ownership and the fight assignments correspond to dog fights in the real world. The Pokémon, or the dogs, are living tools.
                Sarah has created a cast of 9 characters with personalities and stories in which they are not tools or sidekicks or conveniences but characters who stand in the spot light. These characters interact with each other in Sarah’s paintings but will develop further as she chronicles their adventures in written stories.
                She studied the structure of various animals to develop blended body shapes. One is cat like and others combine animal shapes such as the snake/ferret. In addition to their unique shapes, the creatures have distinct personalities: shy, friendly, grumpy, eccentric or easy going.
                There will be 9 different show cards to recognize the entire cast. When we met she had several paintings finished and others in progress. She was also making porcelain mugs, plates and bowls.
                The ceramic work is carefully, neatly, beautifully done. When finished, the characters will be on all the ceramic work. The mugs are cute. The body of the mug has the face of a creature while the handles are carved tails. Some bowls have a character inside peering up and some have faces and tails on the outside.
                Sarah first threw in 8th grade and has never stopped. She worked as a volunteer in the Middle School’s Clay Club for a few years. She graduated from Foxline High School in Bedford NY after working with clay every year. When it was time for college she applied to and visited 5 art schools but when she walked into what was the newly renovated kiln room in Alfred, the choice as made.
                After graduation Sarah will room with her mom near New York City, search for a job, and keep in touch with the fantastic friends she made in her years at AU. She plans to set up a painting studio right away though may have to wait to get her own clay studio.

                Another senior in the School of Art and Design is Morgan Croft. Morgan came to Alfred from Cazenovia, NY. She also applied to 5 art schools but fell in love with Alfred when she came to visit. There is some chance that she was influenced by her high school art teacher who graduated from Alfred.
                Surprisingly, she also was drawn to Alfred because of the impressive kiln room. As kiln rooms go, it is spectacular but what is surprising is that Morgan is a print maker/photographer and only took one ceramic class.
                After graduation Morgan will work her old bartending job and search for a position in a design studio where she may design fabric or signs or something still unimagined. In time, she plans to go to grad school and design video games.
                Morgan’s senior show focuses on a character she developed. His name is Jesse and he stars in her graphic novel. At her show she will display several large images from the book and will offer the entire book, printed and bound, for sale.
                Jesse’s story was written jointly by Morgan and one of her friends. This duo has been creating stories since they were 15 years old. Jesse’s story is one in which gangsters meet hackers in a sci-fi world. Jesse is morally ambiguous, probably not evil, but wickedly smart.
                Morgan thinks the best part about Alfred has been the connections she has made with other students and with faculty members. She said that everyone pushed her to be more creative. See Morgan’s show on the second floor of Binns-Merrill, actually right above Sarah’s show, and go home with your own copy of the novel in full color or black and white.

Hints for attending Senior Shows at Alfred University. Parking is hard to find so fill up your car and read the signs to park safely. Be prepared to walk across campus. The opening is set for 4-7 pm. Students work frantically to be ready and to put out celebratory snacks. Don’t go early. Maps will be in galleries as well as in Harder Hall, Binns-Merrill. Much of the work will be for sale though methods of purchase vary so talk with students and understand that you can’t generally take things home that night. Be prepared for variety.

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