A Resolution of the Arts and Sciences' culminates in Schick Art Gallery

Posted by Kristin Travagline

 "A Resolution of the Arts and Sciences," now on view in the Schick Art Gallery, goes beyond a unification of the two fields — it demonstrates they are one in the same. Curating the exhibition was a team comprised of Ali Carney-Knisely '12, Rachel Fisher '12, Nora Johnson '12 and Professor John Cunningham. The show features artwork by eight current students, 12 alumni and seven faculty members.

Planning for the exhibition began two years ago when Fisher volunteered to help Professor Cunningham recreate his event "Walk Like an Egyptian," which took place at Skidmore in 1987. The premise of the experiment was to lift as much mass as possible using a force multiplier that Cunningham devised.

Intending to recreate the event, Cunningham sought funding from the College. "I went to the dean to see if I could get some money — the College would have nothing to do with it." He went on to quote the Skidmore slogan ironically: "Creative thought matters, as long as it doesn't cost money."

In lieu of support from the College, Cunningham and student volunteers raised funds themselves and established a non-profit organization.

"I think there were four to six other people who met with us regularly, but who dropped out for one reason or another. And we feel strongly that they should have gotten credit, too, although Nora, Rachel and Ali were the fundamental officers…. Pete Stake, the director of the gallery, did a staggering job. It wouldn't have happened without him," Cunningham said.

 What they originally envisioned as an experiment to be conducted with the involvement of Kenyon University evolved into "A Resolution of Arts and Sciences" exhibition. Cunningham kicked off a lecture series last fall, which culminated in the opening of the exhibition.

Acknowledging that the word "science" can draw to mind cold steel instruments and sterile laboratories, Rachel Fisher's piece playfully runs away with this imagery. Fisher's piece depicts an almost futuristic medical tool for drawing blood.

The streamline structure resembles a pen, while the metal that curls back to reveal the silver calls to mind a candy wrapper. "I really love biology so I've always been attracted to the medical field," Fisher said. The piece also incorporates a ball joint, allowing it rotate 360 degrees.

Fisher's piece channels the general spirit of the "Resolution" show, as it turns common notions of science on their heads.

Christine Neill's '69 watercolor "Eucalypt Medusa" exemplifies the overall warmth of the exhibition. Gentle curves, vibrant greens, gentle oranges fill the canvas to display the graceful movement of plant tendrils. The tendril-like foliage illustrated in Neill's piece resonates with the fantastical, pink tendrils of John Matthew's '79 sculpture "Eclipse." The metal tendrils emanate from a large oval piece of wood. The grain of the wood displays dark sparkling patterns, like oil swirling in water. "My works express the energy of growth and structure in biological forms such as seed pods, buds and vine," Matthews said. The brightly colored tendrils look like the metal bars on a playground.

Michelle Molokotos' '13 piece "Representation of Monet's House of Parliament" uses layers of paint tubes as a means of representation. The sparkling blue paints, orange tones and purple depict an irresistible sunset. I imagine running my hands over the rippled tubes.

Courtney Mattison's '08 sculpture "Dissolve" uses stoneware, porcelain, glaze and wood resin to create a highly realistic depiction of a coral reef damaged by climate change and ocean acidification. Tiny upright cylinders, rough porous patches and smooth surfaces simultaneously convey great fragility and resilience, increasing one's curiosity to feel the surface.

Luckily, some of the pieces are meant to be touched. This includes Professor Flip Philip's "Glavens," made of white, glistening plastic and used to study human perception of three-dimensional forms. The Glavens have simple, rounded forms like small, white sea creatures and minute, detailed surface patterns, like finger prints.

The stimulating atmosphere of the exhibition also attests to the seamless collaboration between current students, alumni and professors in creating the show. "We were so staggeringly delighted that the College has accepted it so positively, to a degree that humbles and amazes us," Cunningham said.

"A Resolution of the Arts and Sciences" will remain in the Schick until Dec. 4.

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