In the Department of Art and Design at Queensborough Community College students embark on a journey of two years. During this period, students learn the basic skills of drawing, painting, sculpture, design, photography, printmaking and digital arts. Several students arrive with some artistic dexterity while many others arrive with just the drive to learn. There are artists and art educators who believe you can’t teach a student to make art, but artistic craft can be taught and learned. An environment in which art students are working together, are exposed to professors who make art, talk about art or are researching art history, creates a space in which artistic practice and thought can emerge. Looking at the work of our students clearly shows that they are set into that journey which will eventually lead to art-making. It’s a “long and winding road” and our students know this, but many are ready to surrender themselves to the madness of art and to the creative fields of design. Some will become artists and designers. Others may move on to other fields, but all will have the satisfaction of having learned artistic skills and of knowing the magic of spending time in the creation of an image or an object that may serve no purpose other than to exist.
Those images and objects do exist thanks to the dedication of our students. Talking about all the pieces in an exhibition is impossible but highlighting some artworks in the show will give an idea of the vitality of our students’ search.
Miriam Gonzalez’s chromogenic prints delve into color abstractions created by a keen and subtle framing of the real world. Wall surfaces look painterly and meditative in her photographs. But Miriam can also give a voice to social concerns. In a digital work involving layers and transparencies, her message is as clear as it is direct: “Pass the Dream Act”. Another digital work exploring the visual effect that can be created through the effective use of layers is presented by Miso Rhee. She combines an atmospheric sequence of arches surrounding a Victorian woman who seems to inhabit a dreamlike space. Aside from honing her digital skills, Miso has been improving her drawing abilities at QCC. In a graphite drawing with a clear yet ironic memento mori subject matter, Miso draws a skeleton --outfitted with a bandana on its skull-- in a casual, almost lounging posture. Is it Jack Sparrow or Keith Richards? Felipa Sajulga also presents a graphite drawing, albeit of very different nature. Within the contemporary style of Deconstruction she has created an architectural abstraction that seems to defy gravity and statics. Tracey Leung, Yelitza Galán and Jerry Acosta have crafted intriguing charcoal drawings of still-life subjects, giving quotidian elements such as eggs, fruits and vases a dramatic sense of gravitas. Drama can also be witnessed in portraits by Candance Thompson and Rumei Ye, where charcoal is used with great dexterity.
There are several black and white photographs that stand out. Jacqueline Hill’s photograph is a strong image as well as a great silver print. She presents us an apocalyptic view of sexy zombies, and the viewer doesn’t know whether to run away or wait to be devoured. In a high-contrast photograph, Juan Peralta creates an intimate view inside a mechanic’s shop where a black man in a jumpsuit laughs with exhilarating joy within the chiaroscuro of a working day. Porousha Chomeili captures a personal moment in a soulful photograph of a woman lying in the grass. Her mind is focused on something unbeknownst to us; it’s her enigmatic gaze and the grain of the print what strike us. Ridda Dar’s photographs embody the grace of dance, sometimes as the silhouette of a dancer against the light, other times as a frozen body in the air. Joseph Pasaoa’s beautiful print of a blurry, transient woman walking in front a sharply focused architectural passage within Central Park presents a poetic comment on time and space.
Painting, sculpture and printmaking are much slower mediums than photography, but students in our program learn the first steps towards the enduring process of crafting a pictorial image and creating in three dimensions. Liseth Reyna Flores’ oil painting shows a highly detailed image of a broken vase, giving the composition a feeling of fragility and temporality. Liseth’s attention to detail is also obvious in her printmaking, where a study of textures, fabrics and laces transmits the same sensibility. Other well-crafted paintings include the subtle still life by Seong Ran (Lonnie) Hong and the abstract exploration by Shakayla Brown. Several of our students present a high level of dexterity in a multiplicity of media. One good example of the interdisciplinary nature of our program can be seen in the work of Hannah Hwang. Not only is she a gifted drawer; this year she proves her talents in a sculptural bust as well as in a printmaking piece of a gargoyle. These artworks demonstrate the dedication of the students in the Department of Art and Design at QCC. The exhibition is a celebration to their work and a prelude of what they might do when they move on to a four-year college to continue their education and their search.
Associate Professor, Department of Art and Design