Senior Art Shows Get Underway

February 22, 2017

Kalle Wadzinski A'18 co-curated "Room for Learning" with Gabriel Fuller-Rodriguez A'17 Two paintings by Gabriel Rodriguez-Fuller
Jackson Stack stands beside one of his photographs at his senior exhibition, "Rooms"

The annual presentations by senior art students began this year on February 21 with exhibitions in the Colonnade and 41 Cooper Gallery. A long-standing tradition, and a requirement for receiving the BFA, the senior shows let graduating art students design an exhibition, which may consist of their work alone or exhibited with colleagues. There will be 46 senior shows as well as 12 non-senior student shows and class exhibitions this semester.

Jackson Stack’s “Rooms,” held in the Colonnade, began with wall text that explained Mr. Stack’s interest in photographing a lone orchid that his parents had saved and nurtured after the death of his grandmother. The fragility of the plant’s life was inspiration for the show and a meditation on photographs—their transient nature as objects that can fade or be lost yet their ability to concretize a moment. The exhibition included photographs of childhood snapshots overlaid with natural elements, set against concrete and re-photographed. Some of his images were also printed on diaphanous curtains and stacks of newspapers placed in regular piles through the exhibition.

The evening’s other exhibition was entitled “Room for Learning” and curated by Gabriel Rodriguez-Fuller in collaboration with Kalle Wadzinski A’18. “The title of the show, ‘Room for Learning,’ was meant to suggest a didactic space—such as a library or school—or some vague promise of self-improvement to come,” said Mr. Rodriguez-Fuller. Once the pair knew they would be working in the 41 Cooper Gallery, they expanded into a group show that included Agata Ingarden (exchange FA’16), Jasper Marsalis A’18, Antara Morfe A’18, Waseem Nafisi A’18, Alatz Ortega A’18, Jairo Sosa A’17 and Lauren Woods A’19.

The process of selecting work was drawn out and it allowed us to make less-than-obvious choices,” Mr. Rodriguez-Fuller said. “If I saw a large new painting in one of their studios, chances are it was not available. The ensuing conversations often led us to pieces that the artist themselves didn't know what to do with, because they made it at an odd time or because it's an outlier to their usual work.” That worked well with the curators’ interest in the process of learning, an atmosphere furthered by mounting some of the work on exposed wooden scaffolding. “It's a student show and an experiment in how to use that gallery,” he said, “so we wanted to be self-reflexive about our position while still presenting the work in the present tense. Little gestures such as the blue tape trim on the walls speak to this. Everything's up in the air.”

  • Founded by inventor, industrialist and philanthropist Peter Cooper in 1859, The Cooper Union for the Advancement of Science and Art offers education in art, architecture and engineering, as well as courses in the humanities and social sciences.

  • “My feelings, my desires, my hopes, embrace humanity throughout the world,” Peter Cooper proclaimed in a speech in 1853. He looked forward to a time when, “knowledge shall cover the earth as waters cover the great deep.”

  • From its beginnings, Cooper Union was a unique institution, dedicated to founder Peter Cooper's proposition that education is the key not only to personal prosperity but to civic virtue and harmony.

  • Peter Cooper wanted his graduates to acquire the technical mastery and entrepreneurial skills, enrich their intellects and spark their creativity, and develop a sense of social justice that would translate into action.