Artists Share Ideas at Final LBI Foundation Summer Exhibit
The Member, Student, Faculty Exhibition is the LBI Foundation of the Arts and Science’s exhibition to end all exhibitions, for this summer at least. Daniella Kerner, the co-chairwoman of the Foundation’s Art Committee, said the opening night event of the Foundation’s final exhibition usually pulls the biggest turnout of any Foundation opening of the summer.
Artists don’t need to be juried into the show, she said, making it a true “end of the summer collaboration.” The exhibition displays the works of members of the LBI Foundation who are visual artists, students in LBI Foundation classes, and the faculty who teach those classes.
Though it’s true that any artist who is a member of the Foundation could hang pieces at this show, certain works were recognized and awarded ribbons last Saturday night. The ribbons, said Kerner, are mostly “feel good” prizes, though she added that “a lot of works get sold” as a result of this selection process. At the opening, artists took the ribbon selection process as an opportunity to talk about their work with distinguished art historian and curator Katherine Murdock, who was the juror for the event.
Murdock is assistant curator at the Visual Arts Center of New Jersey, which is one of the largest public institutions in the state devoted exclusively to contemporary art. Since 2010 she has worked on over 30 curated group and solo exhibitions for the Art Center and organized more than 50 community art exhibitions.
Murdock was occupied with artists for much of the night, working the room like a seasoned politician. When one artist asked her how his sculpture could have risen to the level of a ribbon-bearing piece, Murdock accepted his invitation to converse by asking him, in turn, about his materials and about his concept. He was very animated as he explained the thought process behind his work and seemed excited to speak with her about why he chose glass sculpting as his medium for his comic and tragic Greek masks.
Murdock’s selection process was based on three criteria: attention to detail, creative concepts and risk in materials. She said many people “can look at a work and see the skill that’s involved technically.” Though it helps to have a trained eye, most people can tell the difference between a successful line or shadow in a painting and an unsuccessful one. This is where things get tricky, though, as sometimes the imperfections themselves represent something meaningful for the work as a whole. That is why Murdock also judged the pieces on their creative concepts and on their materials.
Murdock cited Tyler Nussbaum’s cyanotype prints hanging on the back wall of the Foundation as an example of work that utilized a “very creative medium” to evoke an interesting concept. A cyanotype is a more primitive version of photography where the artist makes a print using cloth and a chemical solution and develops the image in the sun. The prints come out looking like building blueprints. Nussbaum used maps to create cyanotype print mandalas, geometric figures that represent the universe in Hindu and Buddhist symbolism. “By using mapping and cyanotype,” Murdock said, “I thought that his use of cyan-blue might change the way you look at the world.”
Indeed, Murdock’s idea about Nussbaum’s piece seemed to resonate with the artist himself. Nussbaum studied art and architecture at the University of Miami. He said he sees his cyanotype map mandalas as the connection of his two fields of study. The piece on exhibit at the Foundation is a cyanotype print of a hand-drawn map of New York City in 1836. Nussbaum said, “I turned these prints into mandalas, which I see representing the circle of life.”
Of course, art can be meaningful for many reasons, some of which are not necessarily pertinent to a juror or an art historian but which are very resonant for the artist. Earl Zipin, for instance, has an oil painting in the current exhibition called “Felice’s Journal.” This piece depicts the funeral of the wife of a friend. In the painting, there are three pallbearers in the foreground overlooking a graveyard, which is dominated by a massive dead oak tree. Descending into the open grave underneath the tree is a long beam of light coming from the clouds.
Zippin remembers that the day of the funeral, “we got up in the morning and it was 60 degrees. Then as we got to the cemetery, the temperature dropped to 20 degrees in half an hour. There was such a blizzard. It was unbelieveable.” Zippin recalled that “when I put the shovel in, a speck of dirt flew into my eye. It felt like an icepick.” That’s when he saw a beam of light coming down from the sky, and later laid down his impression on canvas.
While this piece did not receive a ribbon, and Zippin’s wife, Toby Zippin, disputed the claim that the temperature really dropped 40 degrees in half an hour, Earl Zippin loves to paint and seemed proud to talk about his work. Three years ago he was diagnosed with lymphoma and told he had three months to live. Now, he said “painting keeps me alive.”
Given how overwhelming it can feel to interpret art, Harris Ross resolves the problem by making works that he describes as “whimsical and refreshing, a message of fun relaxation.” Of his piece “Blue My Love,” which is based on the song “Be My Love” by Mario Lanza, Ross was proud to say, “You don’t have to think about it.” He described the painting, which uses a cotton-candy colored palette of acrylic markers, as “relaxing and happy. The message is no message.”
Daniella Kerner said all of these works together in one place give the show “a good spirit.” At the end of the day, “people want culture and new fresh ideas,” she said. That’s why “I don’t think LBI would be the same without the LBI Foundation.”
The Member, Student, Faculty Exhibition will be on display at the LBI Foundation in Loveladies through Monday, Sept. 5.