College Art Majors Hit The Mark: Fat, Sugar, Salt & Marketing

Bachelor of Fine Arts Exhibition at Sage College of Albany’s Opalka Gallery

Bachelor of Fine Arts Exhibition at Sage College of Albany’s Opalka Gallery

Meredith Kill’s Packaging Parody: Cereal Series

Meradith Kill’s Packaging Parody: Cereal Series

Annemarie Dolfi’s DO-NOTS

Annemarie Dolfi’s DO-NOTS

Allison Borek’s watercolor on paper

Allison Borek’s watercolor on paper of a human heart inspired by cyclamen persicum

Union College’s Nott Memorial home of the college’s Mandeville GalleryHeart (inspired by cyclamen persicum)

Union College’s Nott Memorial

In late May and early June, the art departments of many, if not all, colleges bring attention to the creative energies of their graduating seniors, who have studied art and design. Here in the Capital Region of upstate New York, it’s an enjoyable experience to visit the student art exhibits mounted by colleges in the region at the end of the academic year.

This spring the creativity of two young artists on display at the Twelfth Annual Bachelor of Fine Arts Exhibition (May 6th-June 18th, 2016) at the Opalka Gallery located at Sage College of Albany (part of The Sage Colleges, which also includes the women’s college Russell Sage College in Troy, NY) deserves special recognition. This exhibition included work from “fine art, photography, interior design and graphic + media design students.”

Meradith Kill and Anne Marie Dolfi, both graphic and media design students and graduates of Sage College of Albany this year, have created insightful, yet playful, designs for edible food-like substances (thank you, Michael Pollan for the terminology) that powerfully critique the ability of marketers and promoters to sell products to consumers irregardless of nutritional and health concerns.

Meradith Kill’s Packaging Parody: Cereal Series uses artful packaging design to create colorful boxes of cereal that could be lining the shelves of conventional American supermarkets. But when examined closely, the artist’s packaging parody makes the viewer think deeply about the heavy-handed marketing of conventional breakfast cereals. If the colorful boxes are not viewed closely, very tempting to rip one open, dump the contents in a bowl and pour on the milk. But a close look reveals the General Kills Chocolax, SUBSTI FRUIT and Chemical Crunch cereals are best avoided. (Click on the photo to enlarge the image, and take a good look!)

Similarly, Annemarie Dolfi’s DO-NOTS conjures up a playful vocabulary for a sugary product that has special and widespread appeal for American consumers. Her tagline, “A Grab N’Go Breakfast With No Nutritional Value” pins the tail on the donkey. A close Where’s Waldo type of look at Dolfi’s creation reveals an ant, shaped like the devil, crawling over a pink DO-NOT. (Again, click on the photo to enlarge the image to see the details.) Humorous. But this send-up of the sophisticated marketing of children’s cereal and fast food doughnuts is a serious subject. Katie Couric’s Fed Up showed the public how very serious.

Also in the Capital Region, the Senior Art Exhibit (May 23rd-June 12th, 2016) presented by the Department of Visual Arts of Union College (Schenectady, NY) in the Mandeville Gallery, located in the college’s awesome 16-sided Victorian Nott Memorial, includes the work of a young artist, Allison Borek, who can be rightfully described as a very deep thinker.

Her artistic achievement entitled {Organ}ics consists of a series of watercolors on paper that complement sculptures of human organs she created using plants and flowers on foam-core board. The paintings have fine details and their creativity build on conventional medical illustrations. Her watercolor of the human heart inspired by cyclamen persicum is mesmerizing.

By her art, Ms. Borek shows that plants and human anatomy are “equally sophisticated in structure” in the artist’s words. She also offered these enlightening words to describe her artistic accomplishment: “Every single carbon atom that makes up the human body was at one time fixed in a plant during photosynthesis.” Indeed, that is an idea for anyone who cares about the future of our planet to mull over.

If readers are similarly fortunate to live near colleges and universities, it’s highly recommended to check to see if similar exhibits of art created by graduating students are on display to the public. This writer is looking forward to the Best of SUNY Student Art Exhibition 2016 (June 4, 2016 to October 23, 2016) opening later this week at the New York State Museum in Albany, NY. The works on exhibit were selected by a panel of jurors and represent “the wide range of media being studied by art students within SUNY and cover the traditional areas of drawing, painting, printmaking, ceramics, and sculpture, as well as digital imaging, photography, and mixed media installations.” This annual event, begun in 2002, recognizes the creativity of art students throughout the SUNY system of nearly 500,000 students enrolled in 64 campuses across New York State.

(Frank W Barrie, 6/2/16)


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