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features

At Skidmore, writing matters And peer tutoring does too
Masters of art and science Curators share plans for a unique exhibit
Art smart Alumni art shows at Schick and Tang
Ties that grind Drama makes Israeli-Palestinian clash personal

 

 

Art smart
Even before the Reunion art show arrived, alumni art was all over campus this spring. Shows at the Tang Museum and Schick Gallery featured works, as well as commentary and career advice, from eleven accomplished grads—including the sampling presented here.


Elena Borstein ’68
BFA, MFA, University of Pennsylvania
Professor emerita of art, CUNY-York College

“My interest in architecture began while I was still a student at Skidmore, when I explored the many abandoned houses that were around Saratoga at the time. In my travels, I have been drawn by the simple geometry of Greek island architecture. In this moderate climate, the buildings have many inside/outside spaces—terraces, courtyards, doorways, arches—that create an interplay of bright, hot sunlight with cool interiors, as well as a fluid interaction of private and public spaces.

“I often use airbrush, sometimes with brushed-on undercoats. The slow application of many thin layers of paint is quite peaceful, almost meditative. Also, the extreme luminosity I can achieve by painting each area separately can sometimes astonish me when I remove the masks.”




Josh Dorman ’88
MFA, Queens College
Art teacher, Spence School, New York City

“When I was eight years old, I’d lie on my stomach in my bedroom and draw with colored pencils in ring-bound sketchbooks—monsters, winged beings, organic machines with gears and tendrils and bolts of electric current… When I began overlaying drawings onto old maps (bought from Saratoga’s Lyrical Ballad bookstore), I was very aware of the implied violation inherent in putting my first marks on the antique paper.

“I have worked my ass off as an artist. I’ve put in endless hours in the studio, letting my work evolve over many years. I did cater-waitering, taught adjunct college art classes for very little money, showed my work in cafés and co-op galleries. Showing art can be an emotional rollercoaster; one cannot have a fragile ego. But nothing is more gratifying than doing what you love."




Joshua R. Marks ’92
MFA, Cranbrook Academy of Art; MA, Purdue University

“How the media affect our vision of the ‘American Dream,’ and the level to which we succeed in achieving this dream, is what interests me. Popular media have taken this ideal—two cars, a house in the suburbs, a perfect lawn, and two-point-five children—and used it to create and define status. Do we respect the fashionable Viking stove because of its superior qualities, or do we desire it for the status obtained by owning it? We have become slaves to our image, or the images that are repeatedly presented to us as the ‘American Dream.’
“My work uses many of the media tricks, while allowing the viewer to step back and see the larger—and largely false—image. Scale simplifies this revelation and satirizes these banal scenes of daily life.”




Abigail Murray ’96

MFA, Cranbrook Academy of Art

“I am interested in marrying material and memory. To make my porcelain pieces, I let the casting slip, or liquid clay, dry out until it’s sort of like Silly Putty, then I smear it onto paper and wrap it around a form or lay it on top of an armature. The porcelain slumps in and takes the shape of the armature, and when fired it becomes the memory of what was underneath it. I choose materials for their inherent beauty—porcelain, certain kinds of paper, aluminum—and then I stop thinking about what I’m making; I trust that the beauty of the material and processes I use will take care of the aesthetics.

“Ceramics can be a regimented, technical discipline. But I like it materially because of its beauty, incredible versatility, and familiarity. Ceramic things are everywhere, from the dinner table to the space shuttle to hip replacements to bricks. I’m fascinated by that omnipresence."





Diane Burko ’66
MFA, University of Pennsylvania
Professor of art, Philadelphia Community College

“As a landscape painter I have taken my own photographs for use as reference studies that precede the full-scale paintings. But photography became an end in itself for me in 2000.

“I paint to find an image that resonates with our emotional response to nature. Typically the canvases are large, visceral representations of my subjective experience in a particular environment. Traditional pictorial devices convey deep space; the surfaces are gestural, celebrating the material of paint as well as the broad topography of the site. By contrast, my photographs are smaller and more intimate, representing a close reading of what I focus on before me. Both my photographs and my paintings revel in the mystic beauty of our natural world. I rejoice in what I see."




Sandra Smith Dovberg ’69
MEd, College of St. Rose
President, Designer Crafts Council; teacher, Arts Center of the Capital Region

“I’ve always liked working with my hands. I find it fulfilling to make things from scratch, and it keeps me well connected to a part of myself that some might call spiritual. The labor takes a toll physically. It is a solitary job and can feel isolating. Working on one piece at a time can be a drag; I have found it’s nice to have more than one project going at a time. I dislike soldering and will invent jobs, like cleaning my studio, to put it off.

“Art is full of science, math, business, literary allusions, history, hot topics of the day… Artists who can think independently, and whose curiosity has not been squelched, can be resilient and flexible.

“Many people see the finished product and have not a clue what goes into making an art object. They think it’s like children stringing beads. They think I make spoon rings and assemblages from JoAnn’s."