By Arielle Dollinger and Liz Kaempf
Students walked through a construction of black walls lit by glowing strands of purple to reach a room filled with art, pizza, candy and the unexpected, when the Stony Brook University Fine Arts Organization (FAO) held its third MaMa Art Show on October 31.
MaMa, “Modern Art by Modern Artists,” is a student-run show featuring sketches, paintings, sculptures and more by SBU students. This semester’s show, which was put on in the adjacent room to that night’s RockYoFaceCase concert series event, fell on Halloween and featured works predominantly relating to a common theme: fear.
Interestingly, many of the works were displayed without titles. Whether this was intentional or not, the lack of branding made it so that viewers could interpret the works for themselves, rather than being influenced by a predetermined concept as a result of a given title. But many of the artists’ creations were clearly representative of the typical idea of “fear.”
Rachel Fauth’s ebony pencil drawings depicted a still life of separated facial features and an hourglass with a human head trapped in its bottom half, each representing a fear of the passing of time. Her ink print featured a screaming man whose head seems to have exploded in the back—an image frightening enough to incite nightmares, as the contents of her subject’s cranium is expelled to create an atmosphere of chaos.
Phil Michaels’ “Feel” displayed a series of close-up sketched portraits surrounding a framed mirror. Each rendering possessed a unique facial expression and conveyed a different emotion, ranging from scared and confused to resentful and bitter. With the addition of the mirror, patrons were able to see their own reflections as they viewed the art, making for a very humanizing experience.
According to FAO President Arthur Kozlovski, the show’s theme is agreed upon by the, roughly, 20 members of FAO, but is only a guide, not a mandate. “The theme is suggested and is not something concrete,” he said. “We don’t reject work if it doesn’t fulfill the theme. The theme is just to give the show cohesion.”
Emily Craft, for example, contributed a photograph of the stomach of a woman with a tape measurer around her waistline. Though this image is not what usually comes to mind when one thinks of horror movies and haunted houses, Craft’s interpretation of “fear” was refreshingly realistic, demonstrating societal emphasis on body image and the emotional distress caused by it.
Katherine Moriarty submitted two abstract works, “Untitled (Grief)” and “Untitled (Finite).” Her titles suggested her own vision, but the pieces themselves could have different meanings to every viewer. Her first was a large canvas with warmly colored paint splotches and the scattered repetitive script of the word ‘grieve.’ Her second resembled a map of the world, with thin black lines leading the viewer in and out of the yellow-toned work and also repeated the same script writing but with the word ‘finite’ this time.
Kozlovski, a junior majoring in Psychology and minoring in Studio Art at Stony Brook, directed the show with the help of FAO Vice President Amy Tanzillo, FAO members and other affiliates. Though Kozlovski himself did not have a piece in the show, he still felt as if he could take credit for one sort of display.
“Basically, the show is my piece,” Kozlovski said. “It’s my creation, you know? There’s a lot of stuff going on which I had to do and build, so as long as I have that and everyone likes that, that’s what I’ll take credit for.”
Kozlovski has been happy with the MaMa shows so far, which he considers a collaboration with RockYoFaceCase because the two events typically take place on the same night and coordinate with each other.
“Music, art and food; I think it’s one of the best events on campus,” Kozlovski said.
This MaMa newcomer, and SBU freshman, wowed attendants with her creepy and detailed pieces that seemed to epitomize the show’s theme of fear. She jokes that she was inspired by the pits of Hell deep in her soul, but really that her focus is on the unpredictability of time and that there’s a self-portrait in everything she creates.
Philosophy: “Time is constantly in any aspect of anything, like age, change, frustration, like you’re running out of time. Pretty much anything you’re mad about, anything that affects you at all, has to do with the passing of time and how you can’t change it. You can’t stop it.”
Preferred Media: Ebony, ink and the blueberries used in “The Aggravation of Time.”
Fond Memories: “My sister once wanted me to paint a dandelion on her wall and I was like, ‘Alright, I can do that.’ I ended up painting like a weed from Hades. It looked horrible. I was like, ‘Oh my God, I can’t believe I made this.’ And I did it on accident! I had to paint over it like it was never there.”
On Scary Movies: “I don’t like scary movies. All my pieces are scary but I can’t watch scary movies. I’m like a baby.”
This senior Studio Art major chose the whimsical (and heavy) path of Alice in Wonderland over all that creepy, crawly, icky stuff. She added some playful nostalgia to the otherwise spooky displays, and incorporated as much as she could on the Mad Hatter’s Hat.
Casting Call: “Down the Rabbit Hole” features Alice, the White Rabbit and the Cheshire Cat.
Who Got the Ax?: Tweedle Dee and Tweedle Dum.
Weighing In: “[The piece] is heavy, about 50 pounds. It took about three months from the first sketch until the finished project.”
Favorite Halloween Treat: “Anything sour.”
A seasoned veteran to the showcase, this senior Studio Art major works in the realm of the Gothic with a “cartoony puppet style” she creates around a sorrowful female doll. Sabrina knows exactly how to show off her multi-faceted talents with small sketches and 3-D displays with synchronized lights and music.
Looks Like: Daria meets The Wizard of Oz meets The Nightmare Before Christmas.
Broken Mirrors: “[The doll’s] got the mirror and she didn’t like what she saw. So for her not liking what she saw in the mirror, not liking herself, she’s kind of succumbing to this evil.”
Materials in “Let Go”: Felt, duck tape, wood, hand-made dolls, lights, and music by the Venetian Snares.
About Those Cute Little Sketches: “They’re actually illustrations for a book that I’m writing and as the final project for my print class. I love if I can get people to put in their own story.”
Life Lessons: The story toys with the themes of optimism and pessimism. In the sketches, “[the doll is] trying to find a new heart because she doesn’t like the one she has. At the end, once she finds the brain she realizes that she needs a brain to trigger the heart.”
Best Halloween Costume to Date: The black and silver, art deco Lady Gaga.