Micah Sieber uses a 60-year-old camera and spends hours in a darkroom to capture his subjects in pensive poses. T.C. Weaver uses a digital camera and inspiration from superheroes and action movies to create colorful and kinetic images. Sieber, an admissions officer at Vassar, and Weaver, an assistant chef, will be among five employees to display their varying art work in the new exhibit “The Flip Side: Creative Practice by Members of the Vassar College Community”, to be presented July 1-September 4 in the James W. Palmer Gallery. The show will also features paper cutouts by Rick Jones, a laboratory technician in the earth science and geography department; calligraphy by mathematics professor John McCleary; and blown glass by chemistry professor Christopher Smart.
The exhibit marks the first time any of these Vassar employees will show their art at the college, says Monica Church, associate director of the Palmer Gallery. “A number of people in our campus community are actively practicing various art forms that most of their colleagues probably don’t know about,” Church says. “We’re definitely excited about having them here this summer.”
Viewing hours for the exhibit are Monday-Friday, 10:00am-3:00pm, and a closing reception for the artists will be held at the gallery on Tuesday, September 3, 5:00-7:00pm, to coincide with the beginning of the fall semester. The exhibit and reception are free and open to the public.
More about the Artists
Sieber, who joined Vassar’s admissions staff in 2007 after graduating from Haverford College, said he became interested in film photography at a time when most photographers had joined the digital age. In 2011, he bought a 60-year-old Crown Graphic camera on eBay that uses 4x5-inch film. The size of the negatives enables him to produce large prints of quality not always possible with more modern cameras.
“I can produce an 8x10-inch print with clarity and detail you won’t find in digital,” he says. All of Sieber’s prints in the show are portraits. “Portraits are my favorites – catching an expression on a subject that isn’t a pose,” he says.
Weaver began working in Vassar’s All Campus Dining Center in 1991, and he credits his background in other media with helping him learn how to create arresting images with his camera -- he’s been a graffiti artist since he was a teenager in New York City, and has dabbled in fashion design. “Every medium that’s visual is about creating lines of sight, about capturing a moment in time,” he says.
Weaver grew up loving comic books and movies about action heroes, and he says he’s learned to incorporate “the style of fantasy” in his work. The photographs Weaver will exhibit depict subjects in unusual poses, including many who appear to be suspended in space. “We all grew up with cartoons and Peter Pan, and I call on those experiences, those images, to create my photographs.” [See more of Weaver’s work at http://illvisuals.tumblr.com/]
“Glass blowing is sort of a necessity in chemistry,” explained professor Chris Smart, a 1983 Vassar graduate who joined the faculty in 1993. Much of the glass in his labs is custom-made, repaired as it breaks, one piece at a time. While a Vassar student he began blowing glass in a chemistry department course, going on to hone his skills while a Yale graduate student and IBM researcher, “Then along came art glass,” Smart says. His mother-in-law bought him a glass bead-making kit, consisting of a torch head, colored glass, and other materials “But I don’t like beads. For one thing, they have a hole in them. It’s like painting a beautiful picture and then punching a hole in the middle of it. So I started making marbles.” Many examples of his work sit in a wooden bowl on the desk in his office.
Rick Jones works in cut paper, and he explains on his website that, “Perhaps nowhere is this folk art practiced more exuberantly than in Mexico, in the form of Papel picado (‘punched paper’). Mexican artisans generally use hammer and chisel to cut up to 50 layers of tissue in a single stroke for banners, flags, and altar decorations.” Jones continues, “My techniques and many of my images are rooted in the tradition of Papel picado, but all images are original and hand cut. I cut out the negative spaces, leaving an intricate, interconnected and unusual handcrafted image,” says Jones, who has been at Vassar since 2007 (http://www.papercuts.us/index.html)
John McCleary became interested in typesetting in the early 1980's, when the software known as TEX was introduced to make the process of typesetting mathematics available to mathematicians. “Learning the principles of TEX led me to want to know more about lettering. I took a course on calligraphy around this time, and I was hooked,” said McCleary, who began teaching math at Vassar in 1979. “The combination of the formal shaping of letters and the freedom to arrange them appealed to me immediately.”
About the James W. Palmer III Gallery
Situated between the North Atrium and the Retreat cafeteria, the James W. Palmer III Gallery is at the heart of the College Center that adjoins historic Main Building. Constructed in 1996, the gallery was named and endowed by the Palmer family in 2000 in memory of their son James, a member of the class of 1990. Serving as an exhibition space for artwork created within and beyond the Vassar community, the gallery displays art of diverse mediums, themes, and origins.
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Vassar College is located at 124 Raymond Avenue in Poughkeepsie, NY, and directions to the campus can be found at http://www.vassar.edu/directions.Vassar College is a highly selective, coeducational, independent, residential, liberal arts college founded in 1861.