Since the beginning of COVID-19, creativity has not echoed so loudly through the halls of the UB’s Center for the Arts. On Thursday, the CFA opened its doors to four new exhibits, collectively referred to as “Fall into Art”.
With two large murals and several smaller displays, the pale white walls of the CFA atrium are plastered with an explosion of color for “The City Talks to Itself,” an exhibition that honors Buffalo’s rich history of murals, graffiti, and other forms of street art and their relationship to social justice.
Curated by Bronwyn Keenan, Director of the Arts Collaboratory, the large format murals and several smaller displays take up large portions of the wall and tell stories of life on the streets of Buffalo.
“Street art is the city that speaks to itself,” said Keenan. “It has long been a voice for the voiceless who have used the city walls to call for justice. This is where communities pay tribute to their loved ones and celebrate heroes. “
The left wall of the atrium is home to “An Attempt to Illustrate the Indescribable As One Goes to East 163rd Street in the Bronx,” a cardboard mural by Tayron Lopez, the Arts Collaboratory’s 2021-22 artist-in-residence. The play portrays a number of sights and conversations heard while crossing 163rd Street. The mural is filled with drawings of people, floods and flying heads side by side with much of the overheard dialogue that includes sentences like “I think I’ll take this …” and “So what are you going to do later?”
Ma-Nya Champagne, a junior photography major, found the murals to be very realistic and respectful depictions of NYC.
“The City Talks to Itself is a great name for these total works of art because when I walk through the gallery I feel like I’m back in Brooklyn,” said Champagne.
In the Lower Gallery, participants can explore works by MFA candidates 2023 with the appropriate title “Incoming”.
This exhibition has been open since August 31st, but a reception was held during Fall Into Art for candidates to officially introduce themselves.
Mark Snyder, Art Resource Manager for the Department of Art, offers an exciting selection of art styles for the next generation of UB artists, and says the exhibition serves as the entry point for the new class into the larger world of art.
“It’s our way of basically introducing the incoming class to the city of Buffalo and the art scene in general,” said Snyder. “Here we try to work very closely with the galleries and museums of the city of Buffalo, and this is our way of showing that the next MFA harvest is coming into the program.”
Taylor Robers, a Minnesota MFA candidate specializing in studio art, drew Summer Home, an oil on basswood painting of a bluebird nest depicting multiple connections to her home life.
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“I did a bluebird survey in Minnesota as a volunteer, and this was the only bluebird nest in the entire survey season,” said Robers. “Well, it was kind of an homage to that and then leaving my nest at home and moving to a completely new place.”
Another prominent piece in the exhibition was an archival pigment print entitled “Nowhere Town” by MFA candidate Alex Cassetti, which shows a black and white photo of a barn.
“They all have their own personal pieces that show their own artistic direction and style,” explained Snyder. “Well, it’s a way to introduce our graduates [students] to the faculty, which you may not have gotten to know because we are only in the second week of lectures. “
Seth Woods, cellist and visiting professor at the UB Center for Diversity and Inclusion) says he is a fan of the variety of media on display and thinks this is a great opening event for the new class.
“It was really great to get an idea of what the MFA students were doing. The exhibition downstairs is pretty exciting, ”said Woods. “Take a lot of risks with some of the smaller” [and] Working on a larger scale on a mixed media, film and jewelry basis [mediums], so a great variety. I am curious what they do [in the future]. “
Liz Park, exhibition curator for the UB Art Galleries, unveils a lesser-known piece of UB history and curated the historical exhibition “F: Reconstituting Tolstoy College” in the second floor gallery, which guides attendees through the history of Tolstoy College. UB’s Anarchist College (one of six experimental colleges run by UB), using furniture and archival documents from the school’s existence from 1969-85.
The furniture on display, representing unconventionality in its purest form, emphasizes the anarchist ideals of getting by with what you have, like a table with sawhorses for your legs or seatless chairs paired with a makeshift table made of wooden boards.
“Anarchism was a way to find out how a group of people could honestly work together [and] frankly, and determine their own educational path, ”said Park. “So this exhibition is an attempt to read a story that is difficult to capture.”
Scattered around the exhibit are a variety of documents detailing the college’s ideals, guidelines, and curriculum. Two of the most interesting documents are a professor’s guidelines for assigning a fixed number of ones and spectrum Article by Charles Haney, a member of Tolstoy College.
“For him [Haney] It was really important that his writing, politics and thoughts were shared with the students, ”said Park. “Charles Haney was someone who was instrumental in college.”
While viewers immerse themselves in the diversity of the CFA’s works, no exhibition stands out like the “Afrotecture (Re) Collection” by artist Heather Hart, which presented participants with a replica of the Lorraine Motel balcony in Memphis, TN, where Martin Luther King Jr assassinated in April 1968.
Recreating such a historic place is no easy task, but Hart got used to creating these types of spacious installations when she grew up with her father, a carpenter.
“She saw at a young age how lumber can delimit space and how it becomes a container for social relationships,” said Park.
Participants take turns walking up the monochrome gray stairs of the interactive piece, where the sound of footsteps is lost in the whispers of the awesome admirers, a hint of loneliness creeps in as they make it up to where the whispers of the cold atmosphere of one of the darkest days of civil rights in the US
Some visitors appreciated the out-the-box concept that Hart used for the exhibition. Swedin Peart, a senior linguistics and hearing science student, enjoyed the eeriness of the “glass floor”.
“I thought it was very different. It wasn’t the … normal gallery that you would just walk into and see paintings or normal art, ”Peart said. “It had more of a storyline, that was cool.”
For those who missed these openings: “F: Reconstituting Tolstoy College” runs through March 12, “Afrotecture (Re) Collection” runs through May 21, “The City Talks to Itself” runs through May 27 and “Incoming” until October 1st. Admission is free.
Alex Falter is Senior Arts Editor and can be reached at [email protected]