Com Art Open Studios

Syracuse graduate students showcase their talent at ComArt Open Studios

Graduate students of all levels share their work, complete or incomplete, with the public to end the semester.

Syracuse graduate students of the College of Visual and Performing Arts showcased their talent, December 9, in the Comstock Art building. A few students organized the event to display the work their peers had been working on over the course of the semester. Various performance pieces, sculptures, jewelry and paintings were curated by students to fill out the show.

"Their work is edgier than what you see in the market today."
- Tom Hall

“This is a display of work done predominately of first year grad students who are in two senior seminar critique courses,” said Marilyn Koch, a graduate jewelry and metal focus in VPA. “I was one of the people that selected pieces for the ComArt Open.”

Overall, Koch and others selected pieces from 30 individuals and prepared the show in a few weeks. Earlier that day, she helped set up the event with a few fellow graduate students.

“The turnout tonight has been great,” said Koch. “There’s been an incredible amount of positive energy and reaction to the pieces here tonight.” She appreciates the art of making jewelry because the human body can be her canvas, arraying works in all matters of everyday life rather than being confined to a wall.

“Everyone in our department has a different idea of what jewelry can be,” said Koch. “But we’re all obsessed with the small details and delicateness in our work.”

Nearby Joan Farrenkopf, a first year graduate student of interdisciplinary art exhibits her art piece of a series of up-close photos of the remnants of the Berlin Wall. Each photo presents a different element of graffiti. At such a short distance, the photos look like mosaics. The last photograph displays “refugees welcome” spray-painted in German.

“I was influenced by the current refugee situation occurring with Syria,” said Farrenkopf. “I went to undergrad nearly 30 years ago and these events reminded me of the Berlin Wall. We have history repeating itself which I want people to think about when they this exhibit.”

Another interesting piece was by Kathleen Sheehan, a graduate student studying painting. Despite her course of study, Sheehan has explored sculpting for the show. “I’m used to painting but recently I’ve become deeply interested in sculpting,” Sheehan said. “I like the control I have over the material I have in my hands.”

Sheehan’s works are small, sea-like objects that could easily be mistaken for pieces of a coral reef. Each is perforated in distinct, intricate patterns that are meant to mimic the beauty of nature. “Some people tonight thought that these were real objects and I found them,” said Sheehan. “I’m deeply interested in the details of patterns.”

Tom Hall, an adjunct professor of sculpture at VPA is decidedly impressed with the work of the graduate students, saying it displays a confidence and ability to take over a space to showcase their work. “This is a culmination of all the hard work the students have done throughout the semester,” said Hall. “They’ve taken over a traditional workspace and made it something vibrant and exciting.”

The academic climate has allowed for the grad students to fully explore their own idea of art.

“I’m proud that the students are openly exploring ideas and being abstract,” said Hall. “Their work is edgier than what you see in the market today.”

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