When I transferred to Geneseo the fall of my sophomore year, I did not realize that there was no art department at the college. In the beginning of the 2013-2014 academic year, Geneseo not only cut out the studio art department— but the computer science and speech pathology department as well. So when I saw the opening for an interdepartmental class with the title, The Art of Steve Prince I was immediately interested and knew that at some point of the course, the absence of the department would have been recognized.
According to the Lamron article titled, Geneseo should restore studio art major, offer more resources to creative students by Malachy Dempsey, “the greatest reason to restore studio art is to demonstrate a commitment to the arts that many students feel Geneseo lacks.” It article continues to persuade the college by stating, “If the college does want to support the arts and, by extension, fulfill its commitment to a liberal arts education, it should consider restoring the studio arts program.” The deletion of the program also sets off the tone that the administration may not listen to the desires of the students.
Later in the course we took a small field trip to the Lederer Gallery to talk to Cynthia Hawkins-Owens, the director of galleries at SUNY Geneseo. They talked to us about the curating process and what exactly happens behind the scenes of gallery openings. Interpretation was a large part of the process. For example when Steve Prince had his residency at Geneseo, he had to change the plans and dimensions of his interactive work Urban Garden. So when the art department came to the end, they did what they do best, improvised. We also looked inside the art storage rooms and I came to learn that Geneseo has two pieces painted by Picasso in its hands.
In a broader scope, Joesph Cope, Interim Associate Provost for Student Success and Professor of History (specializing in British and Irish studies) showed us his collection of art cards, like 2×3 inch pieces of paper you can draw, paint, etc. anything of your dreams. He gave us all our own art card to decorate and distribute around campus. A few weeks later, my sorority the Royal Lady Knights painted rocks for our Positive Body Image Campaign to put around campus to hopefully brighten someone’s day in an eco-friendly way. I also stumbled upon the Diversity Summit and was persuaded to paint a small tile that would be placed in a bigger mural. I had a conversation with a Professor from SUNY Albany that discussed the absence of art is oppressing creativity.
These are just some small actions that Geneseo students and faculty alone have shown how art is used in a positive way. These little actions and other big initiatives made me feel that all hope for the art department is not lost.