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Prospect II gives students chance to appreciate art

Leonard Bernstein Festival of the Creative Arts kicks off with a bang

Published: April 11, 2008
Section: Arts, Etc.


The annual Leonard Bernstein Festival of the Creative Arts kicked off last Wednesday evening with Prospect II. This was the second of two exhibitions held this semester showcasing the works of the 2007-2008 Post-Baccalaureate students in Studio Art.

Now in its fifteenth year, the Post-baccalaureate program has gained much recognition, being noted in the New York Times. Leonard Bernstein initiated the festival believing in the power of art to promote change in the world. The works shown in the exhibit certainly displayed this belief.

The artists featured in the opening showed great talent through the intensity and truly inspired themes of their pieces. Graduate student Sarah Lubin made use of various earth tones, resulting in the creation of simple yet charming pieces. Her depictions varied from the common, like the urban glimpse given in “Street,” to the unusual as in “Elephas Maximus Indicus.” This large composition featured a daunting Indian elephant ready to walk right out of the canvas.

Youngsheen Jhe (GRAD) presented a black and white series aptly entitled “Black & White.” Jhe created the intricate works almost entirely with tiny oil strokes. The process had mixed results as certain pieces appeared to be of a higher quality than others. For example, one canvas that featured a cellist playing in front of a statue memorial in a cemetery certainly had more of an impact that two pieces involving a woman drinking coffee.

The similarly themed paintings of Ryan Pressman (GRAD) offered an inside look of personal moments in what can only be assumed as his life as the male figure depicted bore his likeness. The situations depicted in the realistic compositions drew various emotions from viewers including shock, voyeuristic interest and sadness.

The best pieces appeared to be those of James Wheaton (GRAD). Wheaton pushed the artistic boundaries by incorporating random and somewhat conflicting images. “Saturnalia” depicted a woman, seemingly posing for a portrait, in a dark jungle. If that wasn’t visually combative enough, Wheaton added large fish heads to the foreground of the composition creating a hallucinogenic effect. Wheaton explained that he makes use of “associative metaphor” and tries not to be explicit in terms of what his works convey.

Another one of his pieces, entitled “The Greatest Gift,” featured the profile of a woman lying down with vegetation spewing from her mouth. The manner in which the subject was presented made it difficult to determine whether or not she was dead or merely sleeping. The image led to much debate over what was actually going on. But according to Wheaton, that was exactly the point.

He likened the situation to hitting the pause button while watching a movie. A different viewer would not be able to tell neither what led up to the image left on the screen nor what was to come next. Although Wheaton’s works seemed confusing and jarring at first, the meaning and intent behind them, in addition to the pure talent, are the reasons why he stole the show.

Prospect II was extremely well attended and received, setting off the Leonard Bernstein Festival of the Creative Arts to a great start.