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Paintings and charcoal drawings by nine Lafayette students are on display through Feb. 1, 2002, in “We’re Just Getting Started,” the inaugural exhibition at the new Underground Gallery.

Located in the Office of the Dean of Studies, 1 Markle Hall, the gallery is dedicated to exhibiting the most current, excellent student work, says Gladstone A. (Fluney) Hutchinson, acting dean of studies.

“My goal is to make this office the chief advocate for the academic and intellectual life of students,” Hutchinson says. “As the Dean of Studies Office, there’s no greater way to do that than to celebrate students’ intellectualism in its artistic form. When you walk in, you are now in the middle of Lafayette students’ minds at work – the way they feel about their environment, the way they feel about themselves, the way they are processing their intellectual life.”

Hutchinson has set gallery hours at 9-5 p.m., Monday through Friday, or by appointment.

“Anyone in the community can walk in and just look,” he says. “I want it to be an open space so everyone can see that what we are doing here is something to celebrate. There’s no reason to close any doors.”

The subjects of works in the exhibition are diverse, including responses to the Sept. 11 terrorist attacks on the United States, the Lafayette student experience, and books students have read, notes Hutchinson.

Paintings include “Honor Belt” by Selin Sinan-Uz ’03, an art major from Easton, Pa.; “Rain” and a conceptual “rough draft” for that painting by Kara Henry ’03, a double major in art and history from Sandy Hook, Conn.; “Oceantide” and an untitled response to the World Trade Center attacks by Meghan Triffitt ’02, an English major from Lynn, Mass.; “The Nazi Officer’s Wife” by Alexandra Pelberg ’02, a double major in art and religion from Bala Cynwyd, Pa.; “Metamorphosis” by Carolyn Rodichok ’02, a double major in art and economics and business from West Chester, Pa.; and two abstract untitled works by Chris Michaud ’03, a double major in art and music from Millerton, N.Y.

Charcoal drawings include “Stuck Indoors” by Paul Germain ’04 of Coral Springs, Fla.; an untitled picture of stools in the Williams Visual Arts Building main studio by Alison Kelley ‘04, a psychology major from Little Silver, N.J.; an untitled depiction of a wash basin in the studio by James Madigan ’04 of Binghamton, N.Y.; and an untitled picture of the studio’s interior by Michaud.

“It’s beautiful to be surrounded what we love – the celebration of students’ development,” says Hutchinson. “I really wanted to feel what it’s like to be a part of the student experience, and that’s what I’m feeling. I feel a closer connection to students in terms of their mindset and the issues they’re facing. That’s what this gallery is dedicated to.”

Spotlight on Curator Julia Damiano

Julia Damiano ’02 (Easton, Pa.), a double major in history and art, is serving as curator of the exhibition as part of an EXCEL Scholars project under the guidance of Michiko Okaya, director of the Williams Center for the Arts gallery.

“This isn’t a themed show, other than demonstrating the talents of the students,” says Damiano. “What they produce here is really amazing.”

Damiano found the selection process for the exhibition to be a challenge. “There’s an entirely different set of rules because this is primarily office space,” she explains. “There’s so much great work being produced, and the number I chose was limited by the wall space here.”

Hutchinson believes Damiano has done an excellent job as curator. “I told Julie that I didn’t want ‘safe’ works,” he says. “I wanted things that would capture the passion and intellectualism of the students, that’s what she’s done. She’s an excellent scholar on this project.”

The EXCEL project is giving Damiano the opportunity to learn what it takes to be a curator, she says. She has assisted with exhibit installations, catalogued artwork, learned from the painting conservator hired by the college, and fulfilled other responsibilities assigned by Okaya.

“It’s totally hands-on and keeps me running around all the time, which is great,” says Damiano. “It’s not always a glamorous job. I can be all dressed up for an opening but also be running around, vacuuming and doing final touch-ups. That’s what makes it exciting.”

The experience has given Damiano the opportunity to interact with artists such as acclaimed intermedia artist Larry Miller and Donald Saff, who worked with the late Nancy Graves in the fabrication of her sculptures. She also values the opportunity to learn one-on-one with Okaya, whom she first assisted last spring with a campus printmaking exhibition.

“I think Michiko is amazing,” she says. “It’s hard to believe that she does everything as just one person. She’s great and I’m learning a lot from her.”

“The art program at Lafayette is great,” adds Damiano. “The student-to-faculty ratio is fantastic – you can’t beat it. You’re working with all these amazing people in what I think is one of the most talented departments on campus. It’s been a totally positive experience.”

Damiano also thinks the Williams Visual Arts Building is “fantastic” and believes it influenced the creative process of the artists whose works she selected. “One thing I noticed is that all of the paintings are really large,” she explains. “I think people are able to stretch out and expand in that building, which is why they’re creating such large works.”

The senior says she also has learned a great deal from her courses in the history department, especially those with Robert I. Weiner, Thomas Roy and Lura Forrest Jones Professor of History and Jewish chaplain.

“History is another fantastic department,” she says. “I’ve spent most of my time there in classes with Professor Weiner and I love him to pieces. He’s a dynamic speaker. He makes sure that everything he says makes sense and fits together. When you’re sitting in class, you feel like he knows everything.”

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