Successful alumni return to showcase art in university gallery

Viewers observe a piece of art at "Alumni Biennial (Three)" at the Contemporary Art Gallery in UConn's School of Fine Arts on Monday, Feb. 22, 2016. (Erming Gao/The Daily Campus)

Viewers observe a piece of art at "Alumni Biennial (Three)" at the Contemporary Art Gallery in UConn's School of Fine Arts on Monday, Feb. 22, 2016. (Erming Gao/The Daily Campus)

Some may say finding success as an artist is unlikely, but University of Connecticut alumni are proving that wrong.

The Contemporary Art Gallery in the School of Fine Arts is known to exhibit works from many big-time artists, but its current exhibit, “Alumni Biennial (Three),” showcases four talented alumni who were chosen from a competitive group of 20.

“It’s a way of looking at UConn graduates who received their MFA that are now artists across the country,” Professor Barry Rosenberg, the director of the Contemporary Art Gallery said. “We are internationally known and one of the most important contemporary shows out there.”

The gallery, which is located across from Storrs Center in the Fine Arts Complex, is a small space with a large international draw, Rosenberg said. It’s not about the scale of the space, he said, it’s about the art that goes into it.

Unlike other shows, Rosenberg did not choose the artists in this exhibit. Jay Lehman, a co-owner of New York’s Morgan Lehman gallery, chose them based on images, resumes and reviews compiled by graduate student assistants. The exhibit features two painters, one sculptor and one video artist.

Art hangs from the walls at "Alumni Biennial (Three)" at the Contemporary Art Gallery in UConn's School of Fine Arts on Monday, Feb. 22, 2016. (Erming Gao/The Daily Campus)

Art hangs from the walls at "Alumni Biennial (Three)" at the Contemporary Art Gallery in UConn's School of Fine Arts on Monday, Feb. 22, 2016. (Erming Gao/The Daily Campus)

“We were looking for work that fit together as a show,” Rosenberg said, gesturing toward large chalkboard wall where Deborah Zlotsky, who graduated UConn’s MFA program in 1979, created a custom piece for the exhibit. The piece was meant as a tribute to her two professors, who are still at the university, Rosenberg said. Zlotsky now teaches at the Rhode Island School of Design.

“Katherine Myers and Deborah Dancy are faculty members that inspired her [Zlotsky] to become a painter,” he said. “We had to keep it quiet from them until the opening.”

The most recent alumnus in the exhibit is Jared Holt, who graduated UConn’s MFA program in 2014. He is a sculptor who likes to use antique materials in his works, which include a rendition of a typewriter made to type directly onto the gallery walls and a dated photo of a married couple printed on paper and altered by glue.

“The couple is glued together,” Rosenberg said. “The form of the paper is altered by the glue putting the married couple together.”

Jenn Dierdof, who graduated UConn’s MFA program in 2008, is a painter. Her works in the exhibit include numerous flower portraits, which suggest memorials, Rosenberg said.

“They’re not just flower paintings, they have this suggestion of time,” Rosenberg said. “The paintings coordinate with the red floor. The mirrored wall reflects the paintings and doubles the sizeof the gallery.”

A large portion of the gallery is sectioned off into a dark space where a video by Siobhan Landry, who graduated the MFA program in 2011, is shown. It’s a video story of her mother told in first person narrative.

“A lot of her work is about her own family,” Rosenberg said. “She herself is the narrative and the storyteller and that’s one of the things I really enjoy about her work.”


Diler Haji is a campus correspondent for The Daily Campus.