Tags Posts tagged with "Art Department"

Art Department

CSU Professor of Art David Levine

David Levine, chairman of Southern’s Art Department and an expert on art history, has been selected for one of the most prestigious faculty awards within the Connecticut State Colleges and Universities system.

The state Board of Regents for Higher Education on Tuesday bestowed Levine with the title of Connecticut State University Professor. Southern, Central, Western and Eastern Connecticut State universities each can have up to three such professors. It is awarded in recognition of excellence in the areas of creative activity (research), teaching and service, and includes a peer review process.

Levine fills an SCSU vacancy left by the recent retirement of Joseph Solodow, professor of world languages and literatures. He joins Vivian Shipley, professor of English, and Terrell Ward Bynum, professor of philosophy, as SCSU’s contingent of CSU Professors.

“During his long and distinguished career at Southern, (Levine) has received international acclaim as a scholar, in particular for his research on the Dutch and Flemish artists working in Rome during the Baroque era,” said SCSU President Joe Bertolino in his nomination letter. “His particular interest is in investigating the political dimensions of Dutch painting and the cultural competition with Italy.”

Troy Paddock, chairman of the CSU Professor Advisory Committee, said the committee concluded that Levine met or exceeded the standard of excellence required for consideration in each of the three criteria.

“Dr. Levine’s most significant research has been a new interpretation of the bambocciata, an anti-heroic genre painting style invented by Dutch artists in Rome,” Paddock wrote. “His work has been singularly responsible for a reassessment of the work of these figures.

“To redefine a field is no small achievement. He has co-edited or co-authored three books and written 17 articles, essays or book chapters. He has presented papers in North America and Europe.”

Paddock said Levine’s departmental colleagues and students hold him in high esteem. One former student, Laura Macaluso, wrote: “(Levine) changed my life when he opened his door to me 25 years ago. He was, I now realize, the first art historian I ever met, which means that my path might have been quite different if he had not been all the things he is: kind and warm, quietly brilliant yet at ease with laughter, humble, and genuinely interested in people.”

Paddock added that Levine’s service to the university has been exemplary. “Dr. Levine has served on every committee in the Art Department,” he said. “He played a leading role in establishing the Judaic Studies minor and has served as its coordinator on two different occasions. He is also a valued member of the Honors College and has served on numerous university-wide committees.”

 

graphic design class

Many students think graphic design is all about technology – the software programs like Quark and InDesign that are bread and butter to graphic designers – and not so much about problem solving. But this semester, students in Alex Girard’s Principles of Graphic Design (ART 215) course learned differently. Girard, an assistant professor of graphic design in the Art Department, challenged his students to have a positive impact on the life of someone else, to and use creative problem solving to make it happen.

“My two main goals in the course,” Girard explains, “are for students to see how much impact a graphic designer can have on perception, and to explore mapping a solution from start to finish.” At the end of the semester, students presented their projects to the class to practice professional presentations of creative ideas.

In the assignment, students were challenged to identify a problem, the problem’s audience, a concept for the solution, and to establish measurable benchmarks on a timeline. The project was very self-directed. Girard wasn’t asking his students for a highly refined design solution but was more focused on concept and process. Critical thinking skills came into play.

“The project is about navigating a process,” he says. “You’re successful in the class if you do this. The focus is not on the end product. And this class is a safe environment in which to experiment and maybe fail.”

Girard was particularly impressed with the thoughtfulness with which his students developed their topics and projects. They “tackled some brave issues, and did some really positive work,” he says. One students’ project was about stopping racial slurs, for instance, while another’s was about teen suicide.

Girard says the 12 students in the class supported each other and challenged each other as they worked on their projects, but also respected each other.

Speaking as a graphic designer himself, Girard says, “Graphic design is never about you – you are the conduit of something external. Your job is to see the world through someone else’s eyes.” One of the reasons he likes teaching graphic design at Southern is its liberal arts environment. He says many graphic design programs are very technology-focused, but the liberal arts education Southern students receive teaches them to communicate well with others and think about the world broadly.

“It’s important to help students beyond just design sensibility and technological competence,” he says, adding that he thinks about what his students will be doing next, beyond college, and talks to hiring directors and art directors to find out what they’re looking for in potential employees. One key skill he often hears them ask for is the ability to communicate well.

Girard’s students and their topics were:

Pause MovementJordan Watkins
“The outcome is to let people know that it is okay to put your phones down for once.”

Stop the Slurs Julies Ly
“I hope that this movement will bring an understanding that racial slurs hurt.”

More than Something on a Wall Trevon Homeward-Bennett
“I’m hoping that after this show other people would be inspired to create their own art, with their own interpretations and have fun with it.”

Not a Starter Fish Julia Zeidler
“I am raising awareness about proper Betta fish care to eliminate ignorance about how these beautiful creatures are to be kept and raised.”

Intro to Diving Salim Lemond
“I hope that this [project] will bring forth to viewers a stronger understanding, as well as an increased interest, in the sport [of diving].”

Stress Relievers Fabian White
“I am bringing the problem of stress relievers into the light.”

Have You Smiled Today?Whitney Lane
“I am striving to let people know that you in fact do matter and you have made such a great impact on at least one person’s life.”

Strength is Beauty Lee Langley
“I am intending to inspire and motivate a plethora of young girls to embrace their outer strength and beauty as well as, inner beauty.”

Stop. Remember. – Michelle Tenney
“My intended outcome is to promote relaxation and decompression, both physically and through social media.”

Not Another StatisticFelicia Carey
“I am creating a Twitter movement and keychains with the saying ‘Not Another Statistic’ to help spread awareness and show someone suffering that we all care. Together we can put an end to suicide.”

Smash CommunityEdwin Vargas
“The Smash Brothers Community is torn between two games. Using Twitter, I will bridge the two communities by creating and sharing content that both can share and understand.”

 

 

 

 

 

Thuan Vu, art professor, exhibit

As a Vietnamese-American whose family came to the United States as refugees when he was very young, Art Professor Thuan Vu knows what it means to be an outsider looking in. Born in Saigon, Vietnam, Vu settled with his family in New Orleans, La., when he was just two years old, and the thematic core of his work as an artist has always been the exploration of his identity.

“As a Vietnamese refugee, I grew up in New Orleans wanting to be a model American citizen,” he says, adding that his “misplaced strategy” as a teenager was to absorb all things Western and American. “I was the surely the only 15 year old who was thrilled to learn about the art of Currier and Ives and Thomas Cole . . . and who could happily sing the Great American Songbook by 17 years of age,” he says. His interest in the American canon, he says, reveals a love for tradition and its development, and he grew into his Vietnamese-American identity “through the acquisition of cultural knowledge: adopt the tradition, adapt it to my life, and use it to grow.”

Vu’s latest body of work – a series of paintings called “The New World” — is now on display at the New Haven Lawn Club, 193 Whitney Avenue, New Haven. The opening artist’s reception took place at the Lawn Club on Tuesday, November 15. The exhibit is on display and open to the public through December 21.

The recipient of numerous awards and grants, Vu exhibits and lectures nationally. His research has taken him to Vietnam and Paris, where he studies Vietnamese communities worldwide.

“My drawings and paintings document how I grew into my Vietnamese-American identity,” Vu explains. “In my work, I reflect on themes of growth, integration, and reconciliation. These paintings combine Eastern and Western traditions of depicting nature to describe a space that is as much emotional as it is physical. These spaces, created through a combination of memories, photographic references, and my own imagination, mirrors the refugee experience of re-creating a sense of home.”

The New World (American Hymn 3), charcoal on paper, 18" diameter, 2016
The New World (American Hymn 3), charcoal on paper, 18″ diameter, 2016

“The New World” is a series of paintings that he began in 2011 and is the latest manifestation of his life as an individual, an American, and an artist.

Vu explains that over his career, his art has traced his process of growth and integration, especially in the exploration of his ethnic heritage since he visited Vietnam for the first time in 2002, 27 years after his family fled the country. In the various series of his work, he has used different visual languages to express the specific thematic content. “I use the languages of the many cultural traditions that I studied in order to express how I navigate my identity,” he says.

With The New World series, Vu says, he hopes to evoke the feelings involved in building a new life in a young and innocent America. “Contemplative and hopeful, these paintings share the emotive ethos of early 19th century American painters who went out to discover this new land. I correlate the American experience with that of my parents: Coming to America with seven of their eight children, I imagine their sense of awe, confusion, and hope. I feel their search for a ways to adopt, adapt, and grow. I can picture their appreciation for the opportunity that America represents.”

Visually, the work combines Eastern and Western traditions of depicting nature. Elements of Romanticism and abstraction are mixed with an Asian sensibility to create an image meant for Zen-like contemplation.

“In this series,” Vu says, “I chose to use nature as the universal constant, the one thing that affects all people, that can create a sense of awe, and that can inspire the mind to contemplation.”

The series’ name, “The New World,” echoes the Vietnamese term for “new world” – “doi moi” — a term coined to describe a Vietnamese age of optimism and open trading in the mid-1980s after the Vietnam War.

“The term recognizes a turbulent history yet optimistically accepts change,” Vu says. “In this series, I depict overlapping natural elements in ambiguous perspectives to create an unexpected space. This space — which is as much emotional as it is physical — can be at once thunderous, ethereal, and peaceful. It is the visual expression of the complicated, and often confusing task of building a new life faced by many refugees. Nature is used to mirror this journey and is depicted in numerous ways, from the sublime to the minute, from the literal to the abstract. In its variety, it expresses the non-linear task faced by us all in building a sincere sense of self and a true sense of home.”

Thuan Vu painting, The New World (Fall 2)
The New World (Fall 2), oil on canvas, 36″ x 48″, 2016

View an online gallery of Thuan Vu’s work

Art for public good

The term “street art” might conjure images of graffiti splashed across the side of a building, but street art – works of art created in public spaces – actually encompasses many media and is often legal and permitted, says Noelle King, an adjunct professor of art. Many artists are doing street art now, says King – herself an artist — so she proposed a new course on street art to the Art Department, and it ran this semester as a beta, or experimental, course.

As a final project, after hearing from several invited guests on the topic of street art, King’s students completed two approved community service art projects: a large mural inside the Yale New Haven Hospital George Street Parking Garage, called “A Leaf History of New Haven,” and “A Friend for Life,” an image of dogs and cats painted on a door at the New Haven Animal Shelter, intended to encourage adoption of animals at the shelter.

Throughout the semester, leading up to these projects, King invited several guests to the class to discuss various aspects of street art. Detective Orlando Crespo of the New Haven Police Department, a specialist in gangs and graffiti, who explained to the students the nature of graffiti and the legal repercussions of street art that is done without permission.

Another guest, Tatyana Fazlalizadeh, is an artist based in Brooklyn, N.Y., whose “Stop Telling Women to Smile” campaign addresses gender-based street harassment. In 2015, Fazlalizadeh was named one of Forbes Magazine’s 40 Artists Under 40. In her project, she invites women to tell their stories of street harassment, does their portraits, and adds text from their stories to the portraits. She then pastes the portraits up on walls in public spaces. Fazlalizadeh’s project is universally lauded as being an important part of the dialogue concerning sexual harassment of women.

Other guest speakers in the class included artist and community organizer Alex White-Mazarella; Tina Re, curator of artists’ books and librarian in Buley Library; and Pairoj Pichetmetakul of The Positivity Scrolls Project in New York.

King describes the course as writing intensive, with writing assignments including everything from essays to poems, to letters to responses, and a project King calls indoor sky writing, that involved students writing messages with whipped cream.

Art for public good

To prepare for the mural they painted inside the Yale New Haven Hospital George Street Parking Garage, students researched plants native to the New Haven area from ancient days to the present and decided which leaves to depict. They then stenciled on the garage wall the mural of leaves, creating “a very calm and peaceful” feeling, says King.

Leaves depicted in the painting are from kelp, pin leaf cherry, tulip tree, birch, cinnamon fern, daimyo oak, fern, Franklin tree, white pine, sassafras, slippery elm, mulberry, chestnut oak, aquatic moss, red maple, willow, white oak, sycamore, northern red oak, apple, dandelion, white spruce, and two-leaf water fern.

Mural painted on door of New Haven Animal ShelterFor the animal shelter mural, the class responded to a request from the shelter. “A man from the shelter approached the Art Department about having someone come paint something to beautify the shelter,” says King. “They wanted to make the shelter feel more family-friendly and cheerful.” Students submitted designs for a painting, and student Traci Henri’s design, “A Friend for Life,” was chosen. The painted mural on an exterior door portrays a dog and cat and encourages adoption of animals.

King says she is proud of her students, who included Shannon Anderson, Ben Asbell, Nick DiDominicis, Alexis Dillon, Dannielle Gladu, Valerie Glibert, Tracy Henri, Ariel Herbert, Dan Holloway, DJ Johnson, Tessa Karmelowicz, Rahni Lawrence, Alexandra Marx, James Mastroni, Kelsey Page, Katie Pfeiffer, Rebecca Ramirez, Laura Salvatore, Jane Snaider, Nathan Tracy, Katie Verrastro, Roleen Bisaillon-Sheehan, Alyssa Fernandes, Kate O’Keefe, Melissa Urban, and Nina Zachary. King says, “They saw how they could make a relationship between themselves and the city of New Haven, and between the university and the city.” She wanted them to learn about doing street art for the public good, as, she says, “art has tremendous power and can change lives.”