New exhibition integrates student art, poetry


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Photo by Keith Freeman |

'Art Inspired by Poety' presents the artwork of 12 students in the School of Arts and Sciences Artists Collective on 35 College Ave. in New Brunswick. The art exhibition will be on display until mid-April.


The School of Arts and Sciences Artists' Collective united two forms of expression through its spring semester exhibition of "Art Inspired by Poetry."

In the Honors House on the College Avenue campus, the exhibit features 12 students' photographs, drawings, paintings and computer-generated images of their personal response to a poem of their choice, said Julio Nazario, assistant dean of the School of Arts and Sciences Honors Program.

"Poetry generally conveys something about the human experience, as does art," he said. "They are actually two ways of getting to the same place that is providing the audience an aesthetic experience. Some call it beauty."

The collective collaborated on a list of different possible themes in November for the exhibition, Nazario said. They felt "Artwork Inspired by Poetry" was similar to their fall exhibition "Elements," which featured various works related to landscapes, water, wind and fire.

One reason the collective chose the theme was because it was an interesting chance to visually represent a piece of literature, said Sunpreet Singh, a School of Arts and Sciences sophomore in the collective.

Poetry relies on imagery and emotion invoked by words, said Kateryn Zorych, a School of Arts and Sciences sophomore in the collective. Poetry and art are similar in their purpose.

"It simply uses language instead of a paintbrush," Zorych said. "It is a natural step to unite the two by painting your impression of a poem."

Singh chose to paint a scene from a legendary Indian epic, "Mahabharata," he said. Singh said he frequently heard references to the epic and it represents many memories of his childhood.

Through symbolism, Singh used a quote from "Mahabharata" and figures to represent his individual interpretation of the epic and create his piece, "Yada Yada."

"The quote represents the pivotal moment when the main character balances the notion of the family ties and duty," Singh said. "I represent the profile of Krishna, just before he reveals his true form of the warrior Arjun. This is arguably the most important scene in the entire epic."

Art has the power to inspire new art — a written work such as a poem can inspire a painting and vice versa, Zorych said. She proved it through the journey of producing her piece, "Dream."

A rainstorm in Johnson Park in New Brunswick left the ground drenched and the trees appeared to be rising straight out of the pools of water, Zorych said. She began painting a picture based on a photograph she took from the moment.

After initially struggling with the painting, Zorych picked it up again and inspiration for a poem followed.

"As soon as I started painting, the first line of the poem came to me ‘I'll paint for you a dream within a dream,'" Zorych said. "So that immediately took my painting away from pure realism and into the realm of fantasy."

The honors program faculty launched the program in spring 2009 to offer students interested in the visual arts, but who are not visual arts majors, an opportunity to discuss art and create exhibitions based on themes, Nazario said.

Students in the collective, like Singh and Korych, have majors in biological sciences, humanities and social sciences, Nazario said.

Although Singh is a cell biology and neuroscience major, he believes creativity plays a major role in his life and joined the collective to further explore it.

"We are providing an opportunity for students to practice art making and to build community within the honors program because they are each from various disciplines that come together to create art," Nazario said.

Joining the collective also gave students a way to interact with fellow artists, learn about different media and techniques and a place to showcase their artwork, Zorych said.

"[Finding] an exhibition was the hardest part to fulfill because I didn't know about any opportunities for non-Mason Gross students to practice art or make their work available to the Rutgers student body," she said.

Nazario came up with the idea to create an artist collective after attending the National Collegiate Honors Council in 2009 in San Antonio, Texas, he said.

Apart from the semester exhibitions, the collective also schedules monthly coffee house events, live drawing every other week and trips into the city to places like the Frick Collection and the International Center for Photography, Nazario said.

"Art Inspired by Poetry" will be on display until mid-April in the School of Arts and Sciences Honors House reception living room, Nazario said.


Reena Diamante

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