By Michelle Odinyayeva
Published: March 21st, 2018
In the Brooklyn College “Respond” exhibit, located at the entrance of the library, artistically talented students are displaying their expressive artwork. There, you can see a range of topics, from personal experience to climate change.
“Respond” is an exhibit that is a part of the We Stand Against Hate series. It incorporates art, music, film, performance, and multimedia to convey diverse social, cultural, and political perspectives.
Paloma Zapata’s acrylic portrait shares an image of her immigrant parents at the ages of seventeen and sixteen. Yehudis Keller’s bristol board displays a charcoal self-portrait of her battle with self-love and acceptance. The artists even displayed work on current political and social activism. Madeline Donahue used oil paint to display a person wearing ill-fitted clothing, which represents the divide between the red and blue states. With the horrific school shootings that recently happened, Artan Gashi shows his perspective and reasoning through the use of digital art. Chrisbel Plancencia used paint and marker to illustrate her fears from “unjust and public shootings.” Olympia Gibson used steel, aluminum, plastic, and cardboard to bring awareness to the pollution epidemic. Courtney Sultan used soldered coins to bring attention to climate change. Women’s empowerment has been a hard topic to ignore, but Joan Welsch made a 3D boot literally breaking through the glass ceiling.
I was able to speak with Rachel L, Nancy Anteby, and Yuliana Lopez on their artwork at the exhibit. Rachel’s artwork was inspired by a real-life story when a girlfriend of hers was on her way back home to the Heights after class. She had to use a Taser as self-defense from an aggressive man harassing her. Sexual harassment has been an issue for centuries, but the term was only coined in the 70s. Rachel wants to be clear in saying, “There is no face to danger, so I want everyone to be prepared, even those who think they might not need it.” Rachel feels that “the conversations bring awareness on sexual harassment and we should be having them”. Rachel uses cosmetic and maintenance products to symbolize ways to stay safe. “Makeup is not only for women, my project is for everyone. We should all practice personal safety.”
Anteby, after spending a summer in Italy, found inspiration from Michelangelo’s Creation of Adam, and wanted to add her own twist. “I have participated in art shows in the past, people have damaged my work, they feel and poke the surfaces how they please. Physical touch is a powerful thing and it can cause damage or distress to an artwork or a person.” Nancy created her artwork with a double meaning that she realized would connect with people. “I applied the oil paint ‘scales’ in a way to suggest female anatomy. I want viewers to understand exactly what not to touch. It doesn’t matter if you’re a student, an artist, a curator or the president, just don’t touch me (or my painting)!” With the women empowerment momentum Anteby said, “Right now, women don’t have time for silence anymore.” Her artwork expresses the message: “This painting is very much about speaking up to highlight the importance of consent and respect for something or someone else.”
Lopez was inspired by Frida Kahlo: “She is such a strong woman but most importantly she is not afraid to be herself.” Lopez wants people to feel positive when experiencing her artwork: “There will always be a darkness and a light, focus on the light, on the good and stay positive, pain is only temporary.” She, herself, perseveres to always make the best out every situation. With her artwork, she wants to influence people “to never give up and keep following your dreams no matter how hard it gets.”
Before heading to the library type your next essay, or to scan your next reading, stop by and admire the art. With this level of diversity and artistic talent, you will not regret stopping by.