Graduating Art and Art History Department seniors at SUNY Cortland always put their very best portfolio work on display during the annual thesis exhibition, and this year will be no different.
Three graduating seniors — Anna Brasted, Stephen Buscemi and Samantha Reali — will share exhibition space as they put their final projects of digital media art, paintings on paper and canvas, and photographs on view from Thursday, April 22, to Friday, April 30, in the university’s Dowd Gallery in Dowd Fine Arts Center.
Graduating candidates display their final collection of artworks, writing and oral presentations that fulfill the year-long thesis requirement in their designated programs.
Digital media artist Stephen Buscemi and painter Samantha Reali will showcase thesis projects concluding their studies with Bachelor of Fine Arts (B.F.A.) degrees. Anna Brasted, a Bachelor of Arts (B.A.) candidate who is earning a dual major in studio art and new communications media — through the Communication and Media Studies Department — will exhibit a series of photographs as part of her Honors Thesis project.
The gallery will not hold the customary public Opening Reception for the three artists but will live stream a Virtual Opening, including individual thesis defenses from each artist accessible to the public. A live question-and-answer session with the candidates and B.F.A. committee will be delivered on Webex at 4:30 p.m. on Thursday, April 22. The Dowd Gallery will post instructions on how to join the meeting on its website and social media in advance and include a slide show from the installation. Recordings of talks will be posted afterward on the Dowd Gallery website.
In compliance with state and campus guidelines, Dowd Gallery is closed to individuals and groups not associated with SUNY Cortland.
In-person viewing of the exhibition is offered to campus community members including group tours by appointment of five or fewer people. Gallery hours are Monday, Tuesday, Wednesday and Friday from 10 a.m. to 5:30 p.m. and Thursday from 10 a.m. to 7 p.m. Visitors will be expected to follow safety protocols to minimize the virus spread.
For more information, to inquire about an appointment, tour or to see additional images, contact Gallery Director Jaroslava Prihodova, at 607-753-4216, or visit Dowd Gallery’s website for details about future exhibitions and other programs, gallery safety protocols and on-line viewing tour booking.
Buscemi’s thesis exhibition, “I’m not a robot,” explores the boundaries between the physical and digital realm.
For his large-scale paintings, the Long Island native uses principles employed by facial recognition technology to enhance traditional portraits.
Buscemi’s second body of work builds on characteristic aesthetic qualities of the Completely Automated Public Turing test to tell Computers and Humans Apart (CAPTCHA) program to create visual poems.
Although rooted in digital media, Buscemi redirected his attention to traditional mediums like painting and printmaking, where he found potential for a new personal narrative.
“I am greatly interested in a machine’s ability to exhibit behavior indistinguishable from a human, and also the visual methods they use to accomplish the task determining the nature of the interaction between computer and the user,” he explains.
The work responds to the conceptual limits of digital programs like artificial intelligence and aims to transform its inherent purpose for expressive purposes rather than commercial function. Created images critically re-evaluate the information that has been deconstructed and reconstructed through machine input.
Both series not only exist through physical painting but also can be brought into augmented reality. The reversible system is questioning how information can be altered and misappropriated in both the real and virtual world. Buscemi’s “facial recognition portraits” can be recognized by digital filters (widely used in communication platforms such as Messenger, Instagram, WhatsApp, etc.), manipulated through the camera lens, and placed in augmented reality that is readily available to smartphone users.
“I think the visual forms resulting from these programs have great creative potential when examined through the unique perspective of an artist and capable of enhancing the visual direction of the digital age driven by data,” he adds.
Buscemi also was inspired by the DADA movement, video art of the 1970s, George Orwell’s writing and other artistic directions that contain aspects of data and information manipulation in both virtual and real plane.
Buscemi exhibited in the Dowd Gallery Student Select 2018 and in a virtual exhibition as a part of the Common Problem Pedagogy Project titled “COVID-19 Safety Campaign.” Since 2017, he has become an active member of the Cortland arts community.
Reali, a first-generation college student from Staten Island, N.Y., is concentrating in painting, and produces both drawn and painted renderings of seemingly nonsensical scenarios.
Her series of paintings on canvas and works on paper titled “Hypnagogia,” offers a perspective that is purposely skewed to question the reliability of reality and the existence of human consciousness.
“My work analyzes the correlation between fabricated memories, perceived reality and deteriorating self-esteem affected by mental health issues,” Reali said.
“I intend to communicate these internal sensations as they appear in my mind and the way how they manifest in my consciousness,” she said.
“Through painting, I hope to relieve some personal tension and internal conflicts. I attempt to comfort other sufferers by rejecting the assumption that their afflicting thoughts are uncontrollable, unshared and entirely unique to them. I am interested in reducing or abolishing social taboos associated with unseen forms of illnesses through honest communication. My effort is to create an atmosphere that encourages open conversation, thus creating fewer instances of individuals becoming debilitated from undiagnosed issues due to the fear of seeking psychological assistance.”
“Hypnagogia” also challenges the very existence of memory. Exaggerated aesthetics in her work illustrate the intangible quality of memory. The heightened visual forms represent the hallucinatory, transitional state of consciousness between wakefulness and sleep.
“I works through my understanding of existential theories and creates a new reality about human minds’ abilities that extend beyond the present,” Reali said.
Accepted into the university’s Honors Program, she was recognized with the Honors Scholarship as well as a Jo Schaffer Award in Art History, a Gerald N. DiGusto Scholarship and an Anderson Family Scholarship.
Reali presided over the Artist Exhibition Association before becoming a teaching assistant for the Art in the Ancient World and Drawing I course. An active member of the Cortland arts community, she has exhibited her work in Dowd Gallery “Student Select” shows organized by the student-run Art Exhibition Association.
In the fall, Reali will pursue a Master of Fine Arts in Studio Art at the University of South Carolina.
Brasted’s series of eight digital photographs from “Through the Lens: Micro Mindfulness” draw on the artist’s life-long fascination with the exploration of nature through photography.
“They explore the idea of mindfulness and how the photographic process can be utilized as a form of meditation,” explained Brasted of Holley, N.Y., who has concentrated her studio art major on printmaking. “The focus on close-ups draws attention to the often-overlooked beauty surrounding us and creates a considered visual experience.”
“Before taking a photograph, I try to really take in my surroundings and notice the fine details,” Brasted said. “When I finally do take a photo, I control my breathing and remain still in order to capture a clear image.”
Her work has been displayed in the 2018 and 2019 “Student Select” exhibitions and in the SUNY Cortland Memorial Library. She created artwork for the 2019 Blackbird Film Festival and the 2020 “Art from Isolation” virtual exhibition.
After graduation, she will pursue her Master of Fine Arts from the Visual Studies Workshop in Rochester, N.Y.