For Graduating Art Students, Talent Triumphs over Distance

Jonathan B. Yubi-Gomez, 'Uptown C Company', 2020
Jonathan B. Yubi-Gomez, "Uptown C Company", 2020
By Lisa Hirschfield

At Lehman, students working in the visual arts make regular use of equipment, technology, materials, and dedicated studio space provided by the Department of Art. They also benefit from the invaluable support of their fellow artists. When the College transitioned to remote learning in March, however, art students had to improvise—working exclusively from home without access to these resources, or direct contact with each other. On June 1, the Art Department’s showcase of student work produced over the course of the semester demonstrated how creativity can sometimes benefit from such challenges.

The Zoom thesis presentation for graduating students was attended by M.F.A., M.A., and B.F.A. students, their professors, and family members. Slides featured selections of work, chosen by each student, in a diverse range of mediums, including sculpture, painting, printmaking, drawing, digital artwork, video, and animation.

“This exhibition is noteworthy, first and foremost, for the inspiring perseverance and vision of this hard-working group of young artists,” said department chair Melissa Brown in her remarks. “It also marks the first-ever-of-its-kind hosted collaboration between the art department and the Lehman College Art Gallery as a virtual exhibition.”

The exhibition can be found on the Art Department’s and the gallery’s Instagram channels at @lehmanart and @lc_art_gallery. A pre-print, downloadable version of the catalogue is also available on both the Art Department and Art Gallery websites.

#8.jpg - artist, Jennifer Figueroa
De’Shara Coleman, “Roots,” 2020

Figurative, abstract, and documentary art used geometric abstraction, portraiture, and symbolism to explore themes of memory, vulnerability, and trauma; personal, cultural, gender, and political identity; and artistic influence. Students also addressed topical issues including gentrification, immigration, and the COVID-19 pandemic.

“It was such a treat, all the work that was done for the thesis projects,” said Bartholomew Bland, director of the Lehman College Art Gallery. “I was really impressed. It was personal, thoughtful, and really engaged with societal issues that … [the graduates] are all facing as new emerging professional artists. It’s a great stride for the art department that we were able to work together to do the catalogue.”

Rosemerry Perez, 'El Baílé,' 2019
Rosemerry Perez, 'El Baílé,' 2019

M.F.A. graduate Deborah Yasinsky found a silver lining in the disruption caused by the transition to working from home. The restrictions brought out her ingenuity and resourcefulness.

“Being here during the pandemic and having to totally shift what you were going to do, often things that are…negative turn out to be positive,” she said. “I created a whole space to work, and an animation studio, so it’s been really enlightening to [discover] what you can get done at home when you thought you couldn’t."

Deborah Yasinsky, 'I.V. Son Secret Garden,' 2020
Deborah Yasinsky, 'I.V. Son Secret Garden,' 2020

The Art Department thesis show was not the only graduating student exhibition this spring. On May 20, students in the Honors Multimedia Performing Arts course showcased their digital portfolios in an end-of-semester Zoom session.

“Usually this course ends with the presentation of student work in the Studio Theater as part of the Multimedia Performing Arts Showcase,” said Monica Duncan, assistant professor of Music, Multimedia, Theatre and Dance. “Due to the COVID-19 pandemic and the move to distance learning, students in these classes created compelling digital portfolios of their projects that presented the concept, design workflow and process for their future production.”

Presentations included set and sound design, scene readings, and animated storyboards, among other elements, of the productions students had designed over the course of the semester.

Anik Baker, storyboard for “The Meadow,” a 1947 play by Ray Bradbury, 2020
Anik Baker, storyboard for “The Meadow,” a 1947 play by Ray Bradbury, 2020