Is an art gallery really an art gallery if nobody can physically enter it?
It wasn’t planned and it’s less than ideal, but SUNY Cortland’s Dowd Gallery in its upcoming exhibition will explore that concept in earnest, as the experience of viewing the artwork goes completely online.
The move comes in light of public safety measures taken to slow the novel coronavirus (COVID-19) pandemic.
The exhibition had been scheduled to open to the public on Monday, March 23, and run until Friday, April 10. Forced by circumstances to be creative, gallery director Jaroslava Prihodova currently is mounting “SUNY Design Invitational,” a traveling exhibition that will now open Monday, March 30, and close at the end of April.
Although Dowd Gallery will not hold open hours for physical visitors for the near future, the exhibition will be made available to the public in an electronic format on the gallery website and on Facebook and Instagram. The plan is to offer video interviews with the artists as well as artist’s talks to be added as time goes on. The gallery lights will remain on during night hours for campus visitors walking outside to enjoy the view into the main gallery space featuring works by one exhibiting artist, Warren Lehrer.
With that in mind, on Tuesday Prihodova was busy framing and mounting artwork, installation work and video screens in the traditional way around the gallery, located in the Dowd Fine Arts Center at the corner of Graham Avenue and Prospect Terrace in Cortland, N.Y. She was doing so without the help of her assistant, Jeremy Tarr, and running behind as a result.
“He has self-isolated because of a concern of a possible exposure to the virus,” Prihodova said. “I’m left on my own in terms of the physical installation of the show.” She is getting a little help from volunteers from other departments, including Casey Hickey, senior web and digital marketing specialist in the Institutional Advancement Division’s marketing office.
“Casey is helping me get a little more visual presence on our website,” Prihodova said. “The aim is to widen the spectrum of images we can include to create a comprehensive overview of our featured projects. I’m sure it’s going to take a while, but in the meantime, I plan to have at least some images and videos on Facebook on Monday.”
Dowd Gallery was obliged to cancel the related educational and social events scheduled to complement the exhibition. The gallery plans to honor its commitment to invited speakers and scholars and hold the programs in the future. Updated information on eventual gallery talks and other in-person programs will be available on the Dowd Gallery website and social media.
“I’m planning to invite the partners in curating the exhibition and to tape their statements about their work, and create an image-based and video collage we can launch virtually,” Prihodova said.
Once the show opens, please check back to the gallery website regularly as more content is added.
“I will try to develop the supporting program over the coming month,” Prihodova said. She’ll be busy setting up recording video sessions with artists who had planned to visit campus and speak. Instead, “there will be a video and slideshow with their narration, at least that is the plan.”
She expects Szilvia Kadas, an Art and Art History Department faculty member at SUNY Cortland, to talk about her work in one video.
The new schedule also pushes the annual Bachelor of Fine Arts show back until May.
“The gallery, with our BFA committee headed by Jenn McNamara, are working with our BFA candidates to either install and defend their thesis work online or to present in the gallery with their committee members present,” Prihodova said. “But we are going to have to wait and see how the situation develops. As of now, they have permission and authorization from our administration to proceed with their work procurement, but we won’t decide whether or not to hold the BFA exhibition in the gallery until May.”
Visit the Dowd Gallery website for details about exhibiting artists. For more information, contact Prihodova at 607-753-4216.
‘SUNY Design Invitational’
From utilitarian salt shakers on a cafeteria table to the most luxe logos and letterheads, design is prevalent in our everyday lives, whether we realize it or not.
So said two faculty members at SUNY Brockport, Tim Massey and Mitchell Christensen, who are co-curators of “SUNY Design Invitational.”
The exhibition features recent work in a wide survey of contemporary design and related projects by artists and instructors from across the State University of New York system.
“SUNY Design Invitational” showcases the work of Mitchell Christensen from the College at Brockport; Stephanie Dinkins at SUNY Stony Brook; Gerkhan Ersan at Binghamton University; Anne Galperin at SUNY New Paltz; Szilvia Kadas at SUNY Cortland; Warren Lehrer at SUNY Purchase, and Judy Livingston at New York State College of Ceramics at Alfred University.
The artists all apply their individual aesthetic approaches while following a hierarchy of techniques, typography and images to communicate a message to the end-user in an efficient and optimized style.
“As always, artists and designers receive their inspiration from any number of sources, both likely and unlikely,” noted co-curator Massey, director of the Tower Fine Arts Gallery at SUNY Brockport.
One of the featured artists, Judy Livingston, an associate professor of graphic design at Alfred, exhibits works based on her interest in adaptive and inclusive education.
“My current research includes working on a guidebook for adaptive bar and bat mitzvah ceremonies entitled ‘Start with YES: Creating Inclusive B’nai Mitzvah Ceremonies,’” Livingston said.
Livingston’s piece in the exhibition that is related to these concepts has evolved from the design of the page layout to the design of a system for inclusion, challenging social norms, raising awareness and advocating for dignity and respect for individuals at all levels of ability.
“The project goal is to help make it possible for every child, no matter their level of physical, intellectual or social ability, to participate fully in Jewish ritual and community life,” she explained.