Second spring senior exhibition opens May 3 in Marion Art Gallery

Monday April 29, 2019Doug Osborne-Coy
The exhibition poster for Tessellate, which opens May 3, was designed by Benjamin Rockafellow.
The exhibition poster for “Tessellate,” which opens May 3, was designed by Benjamin Rockafellow.

The second senior show of the Spring 2019 semester, titled “Tessellate,” opens in the Cathy and Jesse Marion Art Gallery with a reception from 7 to 9 p.m. on Friday, May 3.

On display through May 9, the exhibition includes artwork by 10 graduating seniors: Joseph Chadwick (Drawing/Painting), Kathleen Fenton (Animation/Illustration), Alison Gugino (Photography and Drawing/Painting), Emery Mauro (Ceramics and Sculpture), Tyler Meek (Animation/Illustration), Melissa Neuburger (Animation/Illustration and Film/Video), Benjamin Rockafellow (Graphic Design), Erin Ruffino (Drawing/Painting), Natalie Sacchitella (Ceramics and Graphic Design) and Aaron Trudell (Animation/Illustration).

Seniors chose as their title the word “Tessellate,” meaning mosaics or shapes being pieced together, to reference the portrait on the exhibition poster, which is a composite of the 10 artists’ faces. According to Ruffino, who thought of the tile, it also indicates “how we’re all different artists with different goals, but we’re all here at Fredonia at this moment having this show.”

Chadwick’s paintings from his “Run Down the Dream” series contrast the tangible or logical, represented by life-size paintings of cars, with dream imagery. The title comes from the Tom Petty song “Runnin’ Down a Dream,” which includes the lyrics “Yeah, runnin’ down a dream, that never would come to me / Workin’ on a mystery, going wherever it leads.”

“The Waiting Things,” a series of six watercolor paintings by Fenton, is “about the aspects of dependence and imagination that we live with as children but tend to lose as we grow into adults.” “I was blessed to grow up with loving grandparents who unfortunately were affected by various ailments like cancer and dementia,” Fenton said. “Watching them being cared for in their final days, I saw them return to a more child-like existence. Rather than undignified or disheartening, I found this return to be comforting.”

With a 5 by 8 foot painting of a horse, Gugino represents the fearlessness artists must have when graduating from college and being on their own. She is inspired by George Stubbs, one of the greatest horse painters and portraitists of his time, because he captures horses “with naturalistic observation and a calm, classical sense of composition.”

Mauro was influenced to create the large clay sculpture “Princess” by a childhood memory. “I had been unable to feed alligators in an enclosure the zoo but was allowed to feed the nearby deer,” Mauro said. “Despite having food for both them, one was okay yet the other was not, and I could not understand why. Why would something hurt you if you are trying to help it?”

In Meek’s animation “High Steaks,” two steaks tell their story of what it was like being sent to a slaughter house. Tras Los Muros’s film “Slaughterhouse: What the Meat Industry Hides,” filmed between 2015 and 2017 at 58 slaughterhouses in Mexico, inspired Meek to create this critical animation about the barbaric methods used to slaughter animals. For the exhibition, he constructed a sculpture of a cow from foam, cloth and wax to hold an iPad displaying the animation.

Neuberger exposes the imperfections of a conventional family in her animation “Crumb Coating.” “A decorated cake is a beautiful sight to behold, but under all of the fondant and royal icing is a layer of buttercream dotted with crumbs,” Neuberger said. “This layer is referred to as a crumb coating. It traps the loose crumbs and helps hide any of the imperfections of the bake. People tend to try to keep their own imperfections hidden from others. A house, much like a cake, has an exterior that helps to hide the flaws of the household inside. A family may seem perfect, with their neatly mowed lawn and white picket fence but once inside the front door, it can be a very different story.”

To create 20 different monograms, Rockafellow considered the “Gestalt Theory,” which outlines why the human eye and brain perceive a unified shape in a different way from the way they perceive the individual parts of those shapes.

Ruffino writes of her “Rumination” series of paintings, “I learned that often our experiences in the present moment override our experiences of the past, meaning what we feel in a particular moment convinces us we have always behaved a certain way. To show how this overreaching influence of the present creates tension within the self, I reclaimed childhood photos and began dividing life into four distinct stages: childhood, teenage, current, and future.”       

Sacchitella created 100 clay goblets to display her experiments with glazes because the constant changing planes in the form show how the different glazes move and run. The added slip texture on the surface of the goblet demonstrates how the glaze breaks, which is defined as how the glaze will sometimes change color and transparency as it thins or thickens on the uneven texture.

In his illustrated novel “The Saga of Serbas,” Trudell mixes current societal issues with fantasy. The novel follows Basthyn, a once ordinary human, as he struggles with his newfound powers and gets caught up in an empire struggling amidst social, economic and political chaos.

The exhibition and reception are free and open to the public. The Marion Art Gallery is located on the first floor of Rockefeller Arts Center on the Fredonia campus and is most easily accessed from the Symphony Circle side of the building.

“Tessellate” is supported by the Department of Visual Arts and New Media, Fredonia College Foundation’s Cathy and Jesse Marion Endowment Fund and the Friends of Rockefeller Arts Center.

Gallery hours are: Tuesday through Thursday noon to 4 p.m., Friday and Saturday noon to 6 p.m., and Sunday noon to 4 p.m. The gallery is closed on Mondays. For more information or a group tour of the exhibition, contact Gallery Director Barbara Räcker at 673-4897 or

You May Also Like