Despite its name, the latest exhibit to open at Union College reveals the ways that artists and professors have continued to create during the pandemic.
Called “Pause,” the exhibit features works from faculty and staff from the college’s visual arts department, including Martin Benjamin, Chris Duncan, Abby Golodik, Laini Nemett, Fernando Orellana, Frank Rapant and Sandy Wimer.
Their works are featured in the Crowell and West Galleries, which are only physically open to members of the campus. However, there is a virtual option that takes people outside of the campus community into the galleries.
The first works viewers may see, just to the side of the gallery doors, are two vibrant abstract portraits called “American Gaki.” Made by Orellana using oil pastels, the lines are raw and frantic-looking. The works reflect upon the anxiety and the uncertainty that most of us have been feeling for the better part of a year.
Inside the gallery, sculptures dot the space. Created by Duncan, they are a mix of paper, cardboard, wood, and other familiar materials that one may have around their home. They’re piled and stacked together to form complex, richly layered, structures.
Nearby is a colorful collection of photographs from Rapant that spans one wall. Some are sweeping landscapes, taken from a mountaintop or at the base of a river. Others are focused on small moments and interactions between people, one showing a figure in a flower crown with their eyes closed, another showing two people holding hands in a hospital bed.
Each photograph was taken during 2020 and imbue the viewer with a sense of hopefulness.
“Together with my wife, living in such intense closeness with our three young children has been one of the best and most difficult times of our lives,” Rapant shared in an artist statement. “Every day is a roller coaster of joy and patience. They try to educate one, entertain another, and pacify the third, all while working full-time jobs from home.”
On the other side of the gallery space are two large photographs from Benjamin. Called “Italy Heads,” the two portraits are candid shots, taken without the viewer necessarily being aware they were being photographed.
In one, a figure is bundled up, with a thick, knitted black scarf wrapped around her neck. In another, the figure, wearing pearls, dark red lipstick and earrings topped with a black hat, gazes directly into the camera. The portraits are part of a series where the artist photographed daily in Italy, and many other portraits are included in the exhibit.
Sweeping canvases, featuring the inner walls of canyons, greet the viewer in the following gallery. They’re created by Nemett, who has recently focused on exploring the landforms of the American Southwest, delving into canyons and cliffs created and changed by years of erosion.
Perhaps despite the large canvas size, the paintings feel intimate, taking viewers right up against the orange and dune-colored canyon walls.
Close by is a steel sculpture from Golodik. Called “Break,” it features what looks like one line of steel, crisscrossed to create two triangular shapes. Jutting out from the wall nearby is “Reach,” another sculpture from Golodik, which seems to change shape, depending on the angle one views it.
Elsewhere in the exhibit are prints by Wimer, who most recently has experimented with a 3D printed miniature press. Beyond those miniature works, there are also a few pieces from Wimer that are featured in the college’s permanent collection, like “Locator #1,” a stone lithograph with a cloudy, fluctuating sky.
“Pause” will be on exhibit through April 1 and is available to view through https://tinyurl.com/r5sip9iw
There will be an online opening and artist talk on Wednesday, March 10, from 5-6 p.m. via Zoom (https://union.zoom.us/j/).
For more information, including about the artist talk, visit union.edu/visual-arts/current-exhibit or call 518-388-6714.