July 23, 2019 | 73° F

Undergraduate Annual Open Exhibit showcases "revolutionary" student artwork

Photo by Avalon Zoppo |

A book hardened with candy, a TV set surrounded by garbage bags and a giant balance. Though seemingly unrelated, all are pieces displayed in Mason Gross's Undergraduate Annual Open Exhibition.

Walking across campus everyday, students are reminded by little red and white flags that Rutgers is celebrating "250 years of being revolutionary." And the Mason Gross School of Arts is reiterating the theme of "revolution" with an exhibit entitled "Revolution."

The show, running from Oct. 20 to Nov. 11, features work that follows the theme of "revolution" in some way, shape or form.

At the show's reception on Oct. 22, Nicolas Pereda, director of the new Digital Film program, selected six students to award with cash prizes for their outstanding pieces. Some of the winners included Allison Scalera, Delfina Picchio, Deborah Thompson and Ann Pollack.

And students proved they could think "outside of the box."

Allison Scalera, a Mason Gross School of the Arts senior, won the Visual Arts Award for her piece entitled "The Energy of Movement."

Scalera, who herself is a dancer and choreographer for the Rutgers Preforming Dance Company, set out to describe the invisible energy that dancers emit through a video-animation reel projected onto the exhibit's white walls.

The video was created with Adobe Photoshop using a series of animations compiled in a gif. Scalera videotaped herself dancing and used that as a reference for the basic outline. From there, she drew the lines of energy flying off the body.

"Energy is invisible," she said. "As you can see, the dancers not only move, but there are these lines that fly off their bodies, which represents that invisible energy in the air."

Two small flip books accompanied the video, which Scalera said allowed the viewer to have a more physical interaction of the movement. The viewer could then control the speed of the movement and have a closer look at each illustration.

As a contemporary, modern and jazz dancer, Scalera said it was rewarding for her passion for art and movement collide during the project. The piece revolutionizes the way the audiences views movement and dance.

"We usually view movement by just seeing the body," she said. "We don't see the energy. In my opinion, that energy is mostly felt by the dancers on stage ... To put it on a screen for everyone to view sends a revolutionary message. "

Scalera was one among many students delivering a revolutionary message with her art.

In a quiet back room, Tunde Adeyina, a Mason Gross School of Arts first-year student, showcased his work titled "I Am More."

The piece featured a women sitting at her desk in a dark room. On one side of the room was an array of cleaning supplies, dishes and groceries, which was meant to represent the standards that society holds women by. In contrast, the woman sits at a desk studying.

"This is supposed to depict women rising up and the end of sexual harassment," he said.

The woman in the piece is Adeyina's friend who works on the Sexual Assault Response Team at Rutgers. Adeyina and his friend, Jamie, spent two weeks planning the concept, and a day capturing the actual photo.

All of this was shown on a computer screen, which Adeyina said was purposeful.

"In this generation, we view women in a hypersexualized way on the Internet. Most of the time, there is sexual harassment happening. This was to depict that," he said.

Underneath the screen, there was a keyboard. The women's diary was propped atop the keyboard with a poem written inside about her own worth.

"I am more than 'Netflix and Chill.' More than 'Just one time.' More than 'My side piece,'" read the poem, followed by the declaration, "I am a Queen, not a victim." The photo and journal together exemplified the theme of revolution in a powerful, thought-provoking way.

"It's very easy to respond to (the theme) in a way that is predictable," said Gerry Beegan, chair of the Visual Arts Department. "(Nicolas Pereda) was looking for students that thought outside of the box."

A few pieces particularly stood out to Beegan, such as a photograph of a mirror looking up at the sky, titled "Mirror Interacts With Earth, and Vice Versa." Beegan was also impressed by a photograph of a woman, slightly smiling, with black blood dripping from her lips, entitled "Black Matter."

"What is interesting about the show is you have very heartfelt, dramatic pieces, then you've got a photo of a cup of tea right next to it," he said. 

Avalon Zoppo

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