Manhattanville Values on Display in New Brownson Gallery Show

Students viewing art in Brownson Gallery On Wednesday, February 16, the Brownson Art Gallery was filled with lively, electric chatter about a new exhibit featuring student and faculty work related to social justice and activism. Created in the Fall ‘21 semester in a collaboration between Studio Arts and the Center for Inclusion, this new show runs until March 21. The show provides a chance for students to share their hopes for the future and get involved with creating a show in a real way. The works range from paintings and lithographs to sculptures and conceptual pieces.

“Our hope is that the show can provide an outlet for people to visually display the changes they want to see in the world,” said Jessica Kara ‘24, whose work focuses on feminism, environmentalism, and the Black Lives Matter movement. “I collaborated on the digital show for the [exhibit] over winter break and we hung [the pieces for the show] during the first week of the semester.” 

“We tried to keep artist’s work somewhat together and break it up by size,” said Madison Banaszek ‘22, who focused on the issues of safety in sex work and the loneliness of COVID for the show. “Because of how big the show was, we double-hung in order to maximize the space. This was the first show I’ve had the chance to hang.” 

Alakananda Mukerji, who has taught Studio Art at the College since 1998, beamed as dozens of curious students, staff, and faculty began making their way in to peruse the work of student artists such as Lisa Santamaria, Victoria Polo, Sophie Cymone Bolla, Ange Fuentes, Shantea Gordon, and Nicole Mateos. “I came up with an assignment and said that students had the freedom to do whatever they wanted, but that it needed to connect to social justice. Students worked on that prompt, and some graduate students and alums came to support their efforts. We ended up having a lot of student work, so we tried to display the ones most fitting to the theme.” 

Professor Laura Bethune was also integral in helping students who wanted to comment on the nature of sustainability in fashion, helping guide and nurture them in their efforts at not just commenting on the issue, but showing how vibrant fashion could be in a sustainable world. Elsewhere, students like Raven Garcia ‘23 and Zenaiya Whitaker ‘23 commented on gun ownership as it relates to the dialogue around mass shootings and the Black Lives Matter protests respectively. “We weren’t really in school because of COVID, so I feel like we never got to have that conversation,” said Whitaker. 

During opening remarks for the show, student Gabriel Pia ‘23 summed it up eloquently saying, “It’s really great to see the amount of student art and professor art, all of us coming together in the Manhattanville Community. We often don’t get to see what students are making in each individual class, so these shows give us an opportunity to not only see what us students are doing, but also what our professors are doing and what’s been inspiring them their whole lives.” 

Professor Randy Williams, who has a moving sculpture in the back of the gallery added, “I think what’s really important with this show or any show, is the ability to communicate the feelings that we have and do it visually. I think so often we forget how sincere art is, and forget how important art is, making the assumption people can do anything. But as you go around and look at how people have responded, you see these things are really quite specific, resonating with the ways we communicate with the world and ourselves.” 

To experience the show virtually, please go to Social Justice & Activism Brownson Art Gallery (ID: 8989055)