‘Art as Process’ Montclair State University Exhibit at LBI Foundation

By PAT JOHNSON | May 23, 2018
Photo by: Pat Johnson Artist Stacy Morrison made video art from an obsession with another woman’s past. She is wearing the woman’s image silk-screened on her skirt.

“Art as Process,” an exhibit of works by 22 art and design faculty members of Montclair State University currently at the Long Beach Island Foundation of the Arts and Sciences in Loveladies, might have the title “The Times They Are a-Changing,” as many of the artists have a sense of nostalgia about the past coupled with fear of the future. On Saturday, some of them were on hand to enlighten and enrich the viewing public.

Asha Ganpat has explored sadomasochism by decorating everyday instruments of torture with lace made of old-fashioned Letterpress. At first glance they could be lace underwear, but as the titles suggest –“Screwdriver with Eyeball,” “Brass knuckles and Letterpress Teeth” – they are anything but.

Ganpat experimented with a trove of Letterpress fonts and brackets, embellishing two-dimensional “torture” objects and pairing them with “the fruits of that torture.”

“I’m interested in the halos of power, the tender brutality and the violence that results,” she explained. “And I fear the many ways that it may find me.”

Klaus Schnitzer has been teaching photography at Montclair since 1971 and is now head of the department. He uses digital cameras to make his art. Schnitzer is interested in the way technology has made some processes obsolete and his polished portraits of tools, “Science Objects,” on exhibit at LBIF are both beautiful and puzzling. “This is the head of a Bunsen burner and these are electrical generating tools. Although they are only 50 to 75 years old, we are saying they are old artifacts,” he said.

Stacy Morrison has become obsessed with another woman’s life from another time. She recalled that when she was a child she was obsessed with the Titanic. “I was going to find it and I was disappointed when in 1985 someone else did it,” she joked. “That meant I had to have another goal in life – I needed to solve another historical mystery.” One day, a trunk was thrown out on a New York City street outside Morrison’s apartment and inside it were daguerreotypes, letters and journals of Sylvia DeWolf Ostrander from 1858 to 1869. Morrison found in the trunk an invitation to a ball in honor of the Prince of Wales. “So I started researching, going back in time.” Her expression of this obsession with the fashionable lady of New York resulted in Morrison filming a video in DeWolf’s family home of her reading the journals silently to herself. “I’ve come to know this woman better than many of my friends and family.”

Photographer Carl Gunhouse spent a summer at “the end of the Bush era” traveling across America. This was the time after the housing bubble burst and his photographs reflect that era – McMansions in the desert.

Karen Guancione, primarily an art book artist, became interested in recycling artificial flowers. She spent a week or so deconstructing the fake blooms and then reconstructing them into a hanging installation in the Blai gallery windows. “These were originally made by immigrants in my neighborhood in New York City, and now they are being made by slave labor in other parts of the world.”

With help from artist/friend Sally Willoughby, she also strung library cards containing “years of info that has been discarded.”

“I believe that nothing should be wasted,” said Guancione. For the art opening she wore a colander hat studded with fake flowers.

Some of her art books are on display, including a journal whose front board is a collage of pottery pieces she picked up on the beaches of Fait and Nice.

Although other artists were not able to attend the opening, their artworks speak for themselves.

Three photos by Joumana Jaber, “Chemotherapy/Chemical Weapons,” are very powerful. Number 5 of a woman in a silk bodysuit conveys the dichotomy of cancer treatment: The wrappings could represent a cocoon, a metamorphosis from illness to wellness from which the person is inevitably changed or, at worst, a shroud.

Three monoprints of discarded paper products by Julia Ekas are visually striking. A series of paintings on wood blocks by Stephanie Spitz reminded me of Paint by Numbers kits – a throwback to my ’60s childhood.

Chris Gash’s illustrations, which have appeared in The New Yorker, are stylish and spare. On the other end of the spectrum, Yana Dimitrova’s paintings “Space Portraits,” with their facial distortions, are both lush and disquieting.

The Foundation’s Carol Nussbaum was the curator for this show. “This is the third exhibit we have created of college faculty. The first was Stockton, then Rowan and now Montclair,” she said. “We have such fine colleges and universities in New Jersey, why not tap into it?”

This exhibit is only up through Memorial Day ,so make an effort to drop in and experience it.

patjohnson@thesandpaper.net

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