Author: Baker, Natalie

52nd Annual Studio Art Faculty Exhibition

August 30, 2018 to October 14, 2018

Opening Reception:  Thursday, September 6, 2018, 4:30 – 7pm

This annual exhibition features new work by the exceptional artists who teach studio art in UConn’s Department of Art and Art History, School of Fine Arts. The variety of media featured reflects the diverse academic concentrations offered by the department, including graphic design, illustration/animation, painting, printmaking, photography/video, and sculpture/ceramics.

Featured artists: 
Frank Noelker, Associate Professor of Photography
Laurie Sloan, Associate Professor of Printmaking

FREE and open to the public. RSVP recommended: 860.486.4520
Check our calendar for more information on these programs.

Artist Talk
Tuesday, September 25, 3:30-4:30pm
Laurie Sloan, Associate Professor of Printmaking, will discuss her work in the Studio Art Faculty Exhibition.  


Benton Opening Reception showcases two new exhibits

By Lauren Brown for the Daily Campus

The Benton hosted an opening reception for its two latest exhibits this past Thursday in the East Gallery. The gallery featured “Ancestors of the Passage” by Imna Arroyo and the 51st Annual Studio Art Faculty Exhibition. While strolling through the gallery, attendees were treated to live music from student musicians Nathan Giordano, Kevin Duffy and Steven McArdle, light refreshments and a cash bar.

As soon as attendees walked into the gallery, they were greeted by Imna Arroyo’s “Ancestors of the Passage” installation. The exhibit was inspired by this semester’s UConn Reads book, “The Refugees” by Viet Thanh Nguyen. The walls were covered with photos of Arroyo’s creative process and informational panels describing how things were made and what she was trying to convey.

The exhibit itself took up a fair amount of the floor and considerable wall space, telling the story of those who were lost at sea by having figurines rise from the water. Her piece also incorporated sound, video and two-dimensional art in order to truly set the scene and enforce her message

In the larger room of the gallery, the Benton hosted the 51st Annual Studio Art Faculty Exhibition. The exhibition displayed pieces created by University of Connecticut faculty, which featured a wide variety of media.

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African Slave-Trading Center, Frederick Douglass Inspire Black History Exhibits

By Susan Dunne for the Hartford Courant

February is Black History Month, and nothing looms larger in black history than the evil specter of slavery. Three exhibits in the state take on this subject. Two were inspired by a notorious slave-trading center on the shores of Africa. The third pays tribute to the legendary escaped slave and abolitionist leader Frederick Douglass.

An exhibit at William Benton Museum of Art at UConn in Storrs by artist Imna Arroyo was inspired by the same historic site that inspired Hudson’s Hartford exhibit: the “House of Slaves,” the home of the “Door of No Return.” Arroyo, a retired art professor at Eastern Connecticut State University, visited the place and had a revelation.

“The guide said ‘This is the door of no return.’ Suddenly a voice from the deep part of my soul told me to say ‘No, I’ve returned’,” Arroyo says. “It was an amazing experience. Time is a continuum. It continues in cycles, a spiral, something like that. I came from a place and I return to a place. And there I was.”

For “Ancestors of the Passage” Arroyo sculpted 27 busts of men and women with staring eyes and grave expressions. She installed them on the floor, amid strips of blue, white and green silk, signifying the sea. Each holds up palms toward the sky. The figures represent the many who died during the voyage. (Slave traders expected many to die; they considered a voyage profitable if half the captives survived the trip.)

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51st Annual Studio Art Faculty Exhibition

January 18 – March 11, 2018

Opening Reception – Thursday, January 25, 2018,  4:30-7 pm.
5:30 Remarks by Anne D’Alleva, Dean of the School of Fine Arts, & Cora Lynn Deibler, School of Fine Arts Department Head
Cash bar, hors d’oeuvres, & live music by UConn Jazz Ensemble

This annual exhibition highlights recent work of the permanent, adjunct, and visiting studio art faculty from the Department of Art and Art History, School of Fine Arts at UConn. A variety of media are featured; painting, sculpture, illustration, graphic design, printmaking, photography, and installation art. Such diverse bodies of work represent the most significant directions in contemporary art, as well as the unique vision of each artist-faculty member.

Ancestors of the Passage: Work by Imna Arroyo

Inspired by this year’s UConn Reads Selection The Refugees by Viet Thanh Nguyen
January 18 – March 11, 2018

“If the Atlantic Ocean were to dry up, a trail of bones would lead from the shores of Africa to the Americas.”

Ancestors of the Passage is a multi-media installation resulting from Puerto Rican-American artist Imna Arroyo’s quest to visualize her heritage. The installation is composed of 27 terracotta ceramic figures, each extending their hands out to the audience from a sea of acrylic canvases and silk fabric. According to the artist, these figures represent the African ancestors who died in the Middle Passage, where millions of people were forcibly transported across the Atlantic Ocean to the New World. The figures are surrounded by 47 black and white collagraphs, which depict the multitudes who witnessed the ancestors’ journey. A digital projection, titled Trail of Bones, further advances the narrative journey suggested in Arroyo’s work. An altar placed in the gallery also pays tribute to the ancestors and allows visitors to become participants by writing a message to their forebears.

The unifying theme of human rights and refugeeism emerges from the UConn Reads selection for the 2017-2018 academic year: The Refugees (2017), a collection of short stories, by Viet Thanh Nguyen.

This exhibition is mounted in collaboration with: The Puerto Rican/Latin American Cultural Center; El Instituto: Institute of Latina/o, Caribbean, and Latin American Studies; The Asian and Asian American Studies Institute; and The Art and Art History Department of the School of Fine Arts at the University of Connecticut.

Opening Reception – Thursday, January 25, 2018,  4:30-7:00 pm
All events are free of charge and open to the public.

Artist Talk: Imna Arroyo. Thursday, February 15, 2018, 5:00 pm.  Arroyo will discuss her installation Ancestors of the Passage.

Salon at the Benton: “A Nation of Immigrants?” Friday, March 2, 2018, 5:00-7:00 pm. A panel discussion on immigration in contemporary US politics and culture, moderated by Professor Cathy Schlund-Vials, with: Ellen Litman; Jason O. Chang; and Renato Muguerza.

Imna Arroyo is an educator, activist and artist.  She is a painter, printmaker, papermaker and bookmaker, who also works on multi-media installations. Her artistic work has been devoted to exploring the connections between the African Continent and the Diaspora.  She was born in Guayama, Puerto Rico.  She studied at La Escuela de Artes Plasticas del Instituto de Cultura in San Juan, Puerto Rico and obtained her BFA from Pratt Institute in Brooklyn, New York and her MFA from Yale University in New Haven, Connecticut.  She also studied other printmaking techniques at the Tamarind Institute, New Mexico, the New York University Printmaking Studio, the University of Guanajuato, Mexico and Non-toxic Printmaking Methods at the Canadian School for Non-Toxic Printmaking, Summer International Printmaking Workshop, and Grande Prairie Regional College, Alberta, Canada. Her work is included in numerous public collections, including the Museum of Modern Art Library; Franklin Furnace Artist Book Collection; Schomberg Center for Research and Black Culture, NY; Yale University Art Gallery, CT; and Casa de las Americas and the Museum Casa Africa, Habana, Cuba.

Arroyo is currently a Professor of Art at Eastern Connecticut State University where she chaired the Visual Arts Department. She is the recipient of numerous awards and grants. In 2010 she received the title of Connecticut State University (CSU) Professor in recognition of her teaching, mentorship and nationally and internationally acclaimed artistic achievements. In 2007, she received the honorary title of Chief Yeye Agboola of Ido Osun (Chief Mother of the Garden of Honor) in recognition of selfless service to enrich the Ido-Osun Kingdom. This honor was conferred by his Royal Majesty Aderemi Adeen Adeniyi-Adedapo, Ido-Osun, Nigeria. She received the Distinguished Faculty Award from Eastern in 2008 and an Excellence Award in 2000 for creativity and scholarship. She is the recipient of the 2003 Steinkraus-Cohen Memorial Outstanding Women of Connecticut Award, in recognition of achievements and dedication to public service under the auspices of the United Nations Association of the USA (Connecticut, Southwestern Chapter) and UNIFEM-Connecticut. She was awarded the 2012 Outstanding Latino Cultural Award from the American Association of Hispanics in Higher Education for artistic achievements that have contributed significantly to the understanding of Latino culture.

Arroyo has exhibited extensively throughout the United States, Cuba, Puerto Rico, Panama, Mexico and the Czech Republic.  In 2011, she was invited to participate in The Living Legacy of 30 Million Untold Stories for the International Day of Remembrance of the Victims of Slavery and the Transatlantic Slave Trade at the United Nations Headquarters in New York.

Image Credit:  Ancestors of the Passage:  Journey Through the Middle Passage.  Instillation by Imna Arroyo. 2018.  Courtesy of the Artist.

A Print Sampler: Explore Printmaking Techniques

A Print Sampler: Explore Printmaking Techniques Through Polish Prints 1960-1990
March 22, 2018 to May 27, 2018

Opening reception: Wednesday April 18
5 pm – 7:30 pm.  Cash bar.
Free of charge and open to the public

This exhibition is geared towards teaching the viewer how to distinguish the various printmaking techniques–from mezzotint to woodcut,  silkscreen, linocut, etching, aquatint, and engraving–using a collection of Polish prints dating from 1960-1990. Clear explanations of the printmaking process accompanies each print.  Also on display are some of the tools used to produce the works on view.

The prints included in this exhibition were collected by Professor Emeritus Gus Mazzocca and are an intended gift to the Benton Museum. Mazzocca is responsible for creating an exchange program between the University of Connecticut and the art academy in Krakow, Poland in 1986. In the fall of 1984, printmaking professor Stanislaw Wejman from the Akademie Sztuk Pieknych w Krakowie (the art academy of Krakow, Poland) came to Storrs as a one-year sabbatical replacement in the UConn Department of Art and Art History. He brought with him a large roll of prints by colleagues from Krakow, which were eventually exhibited at the gallery space called “the Benton Connection” (now the Jorgensen Gallery) in the spring of 1985. At the end of his tenure here, Professor Wejman invited Professor Mazzocca to be a visiting artist at the Krakow academy. From this initial collaboration, a vibrant and fruitful exchange program developed between the two institutions. Over the years more than twelve visiting artists and scholars from Poland have been in residence at UConn, and eight different faculty members from UConn’s art department have participated in residencies in Krakow. The rich and varied collection of prints that accrued from this exchange is due to the generosity of the Polish artists represented.

Image Credits:
Anna Sobol-Wejman (Polish  b.1946), Kawałki całości / Bits and Pieces , 1985, Mezzotint, Courtesy of Gus Mazzocca.
Krzysztof Tamalsk i(Polish b. 1963), Martwa natura w rombie / Still life in a rhombus, 1989, Aquatint, Courtesy of Gus Mazzocca.

Close Third Person: MFA Studio Art Group Exhibition

April 3 – May 6, 2018

Opening Reception: Wednesday April 2018
5pm – 7:30pm
Free of charge and open to the public

Close Third Person highlights new work by the Studio Art MFA class of 2018. The exhibition features painting, drawing, printmaking, photography, ceramics, installation, and digital animation

The Master of Fine Arts in Studio Art program at the University of Connecticut is an intensive, multidisciplinary approach to the development of work in a wide range of media, including painting and drawing, photography and video, printmaking, sculpture and ceramics, and installation and performance. The three-year program focuses on the advancement of each student’s abilities as an artist. New graduate studio facilities in the historic Kirby Mill, situated on the banks of the Natchaug River, offer each student a fresh, well-lit space in a tranquil setting. Work in the studio and studio-based classes is combined with courses in art criticism, theory and history, and teaching to provide a context of ideas for developing students’ visions. Frequent contact with faculty members and visiting artists exposes the students to diverse viewpoints and practices. The Studio Art MFA program at UConn combines the creative excitement and intellectual energy of an art school and a major research university, providing students with the best of both worlds. Learn more at

Artist Talks: Close Third Person
2018 Studio Art MFA candidates discuss their work.
Date: Wednesday, April 18, 3:00 to 5:00 pm.

Participating Artists:

Kelsey Miller
My art turned overtly political in January 2017 when I made letterpress signs for the Women’s March. Now the air is ever more clouded, fervent. Political opinion simmers continuously below the surface of the everyday and news advances at a rate faster than we can comprehend it. Belief, denial, complacency, and fear are emotional complexities that often seem at odds with scientific data. My work addresses the polarization of opinion and fact, informed by current events, archival documents, nationalism, and weather—a symbol of change and its real harbinger. The act of making resists the act of skimming, insisting that I absorb and respond to what has happened and is happening. My practice is a call to action, but also a pause, with the intention of offering a moment of reflection and sanctuary, in hope of finding better solutions for navigating this changing world.
Kelsey Miller was born on the island of Antigua and moved to the United States at the age of ten. She earned a BA in Studio Art from Wellesley College and spent four years as a chef on a sailboat before returning to land and pursuing her MFA at the University of Connecticut. Kelsey exhibits work nationally and internationally in solo, juried, and small group shows.

Jelena Prljević
As a storyteller, I use layering to build narratives. Using erasure, light, and the regenerative power of shadows I suggest time. Through process and material, my drawing serves as an invocation of place and reflects experiences of transition. Life is always in flux. Light and time give perspective, allowing change to unfold. Who defines whom? Does a final form exist or is its essence fluid? These questions are constant in my work. I champion the power of personal mark-making to build structures, erase them and build again to reveal life as it moves between light and shadow. My drawings and animations illuminate intimate observations grounding them in a present moment. Documentary, magical and sentimental, my work embraces the healing potential of storytelling through fragments of time, memory, and motion.
Jelena Prljević is an artist from Serbia whose practice exists within the intersection of drawing, animation, and installation. She holds a BFA from the Academy of Arts in Novi Sad, RS where she received several awards for painting and drawing. During this period, she participated in many national and international group exhibitions and collaborative projects. Jelena was awarded The Elizabeth Greenshields Foundation Grant to support the development of her MFA thesis project.

Kaleigh Rusgrove
Narrative photography exists between fact and fiction. I use my camera to create false moments of importance and to record artifacts of questionable authenticity. I interlace the seen with the contrived. Together these elements build a convincing story; one leaving the viewer unable to find their footing in either reality or fantasy. This body of work, this story, focuses on current environmental issues. Climate change falls into the same strange in-between where my work exists. The reality of the situation is distressing, the political response both alarming and laughable, and information presented is often contorted. Through research I find inspiration for image-making, combining what I have witnessed with what I have imagined. In my practice, I have come to learn that the most frightening moments are not always born from the wildness of the mind, but exist in real life.
Kaleigh Rusgrove was born in Bristol, Connecticut and spent her formative years photographing her younger sister against a leaf-patterned bed sheet with a Kodak disposable camera. Moving on to a point-and-shoot as a teenager, she made a series of portraits of local troublemakers that earned her moderate praise among the other neighborhood kids. Kaleigh eventually settled on the solitude of photographing herself with a DSLR. At some point she decided to keep making pictures forever.

Erin Koch Smith
My work often starts with something abstract—like a wayward emotion or a decontextualized word or phrase. I like language that feels vaporous and substantial, as if a dream sat on your head. Narrative is important as an impetus to painting, but my paintings are not stories. They are plotless, hero-less, scattershot moments, birthed from boredom, loneliness, and heartache, operating within the welcome limitations of the language of painting. On canvas, there are no rules for gravity, and floating objects can be heavy as lead. I search for form through scraping and damaging the surface, playing with images of swan beds, mangled chairs, and rainbows the way I used to play with Barbie dolls as a kid, bashing their plastic parts together, trying to land on something tender.
Erin Koch Smith was born in Richmond, VA where she fell in love with drawing and painting at an early age. Her studio practice encompasses a variety of approaches including painting, drawing, installation, and performance. She earned a BFA in Painting and Printmaking from Virginia Commonwealth University in 2005, and after living in Ithaca, NY for a number of years, relocated with her family to pursue an MFA in Art at the University of Connecticut.  

Claire Stankus
Tidy piles of studio scraps, flowers on the floor, puzzle pieces, and birthday cakes are recurring features in my work. I collect seemingly banal and discarded objects and paint my daily encounters with them; expressing that even a pile of junk is worth painting. While some paintings are made directly from observation, others start from photographs of quickly-passed moments. I use casual marks, flattened fields of color, and invented line and shadow to break down the recognizable into something ambiguous yet familiar. The remaining abstraction is where we may find unexpected humor or joy. I want each painting to become something odd or sweet and give viewers a second chance to spend more time with an experience they may have overlooked.
Claire Stankus was born and raised in the suburbs of Albany, NY and earned a BFA in Painting from Syracuse University in 2012. She has attended artist residencies at the Chautauqua Institution, Vermont Studio Center, and Woodstock Byrdcliffe Guild. Claire was recently interviewed and featured on the podcast Studio Break.

We would like to express our gratitude to our families, friends, faculty, and peers who have provided continuous support and guidance over these three years.
We would also like to thank UConn’s Design Center for the creation of this catalog and accompanying materials.

Living in Frames: Gendered Spaces

October 19 – December 17, 2017

Opening Reception – Thursday, October 19, 2017,  4:30-6:30 pm.
Cash bar, hors d’oeuvres, & live music by “Souls of Zion” playing original and cover Roots Reggae 

Remarks by Françoise Dussart at 5:30

Gender and space are the central concepts of this exhibition. Gendered identities are confined to public or intimate spaces and monitored through palpable gazing techniques.  The culture of the gaze seems invisible and natural, at times, making us complacent about how inequalities are created. It is important to pay attention to the ways in which spaces are embodied and how boundaries can be created by the movement of conforming or defiant actors.

The representations of such movements captured in paintings and photographs force us to ask the following types of questions:

Who is looking?
Who is being looked at?
What social positions are framed in these artworks?
What is visible and what is invisible?
How do these positions change the spaces?
How do such frames reinforce stereotypes?

This exhibition was curated by students enrolled in Anthropological Perspectives on Art taught by Professor Françoise Dussart (Spring 2017).

The student co-curators are: Stephanie Abadom; David Attolino; Sarah Castleberry; Hannah Einsiedel; Alexa Every; Jocelyn Hernandez; Esther Kang; David Lagace; Kevin Mendoza; Conor Merchant; Hayden Miller; Beth Park; Bruno Perosino; Catherine Ramirez Mejla; Lily Shih; Mackenzie Tarczali; Abdul Vanadze; and Daphnée Yiannaki.

The William Benton Museum of Art is proud to collaborate with students and faculty to provide engaging learning experiences.

Felicia Meyer Marsh, Interior, n/d, Oil on Masonite

Felicia Meyer Marsh, Interior, n/d, Oil on Masonite, William Benton Museum of Art, 1978.8.10

Nicholas Vasilieff, Woman With White Dog, c 1946, Oil on canvas

Nicholas Vasilieff, Woman With White Dog, c 1946, Oil on canvas, William Benton Museum of Art, 1979.10

Henry Mosler, Spring, 1909, Oil on Shaped canvas, Henry Mosler, Summer, 1909, Oil on Shaped canvas, Henry Mosler, Winter, 1909, Oil on Shaped canvas

Henry Mosler, Spring, 1909, Oil on Shaped canvas, William Benton Museum of Art, 1991.10.3a
Henry Mosler, Summer, 1909, Oil on Shaped canvas, William Benton Museum of Art, 1991.10.3b
Henry Mosler, Winter, 1909, Oil on Shaped canvas, William Benton Museum of Art, 1991.10.3c



KK Kozik, Dress Up, 2000, Oil on Linen, William Benton Museum of Art, 2003.22


The Wave Exhibit reminds visitors how the world is connected by water

By Alex Houdeshall for the Daily Campus

The 2011 earthquake and tsunami in Japan washed away thousands of houses, stranded or destroyed tens of thousands of boats, took more than 25 thousand lives and planted an idea in the mind of Hartford-based artist Susan Hoffman Fishman. Seeing how the wave reached every coast in the world, Fishman realized how water connects all of humanity. Working with Stamford-based artist Elena Kalman, Fishman created “The Wave,” an art exhibit emphasizing the universality and importance of water, which visited the William Benton Museum of Art at the University of Connecticut over Family Weekend on Saturday.

Hanging across the large window on the second floor of the Benton, The Wave filtered the sunlight through its multicolored polycarbonate strips and sheets. Everywhere The Wave goes, visitors are invited to cut out a wave from a sheet of polycarbonate or recyclable plastic. Whatever they think a wave looks like, or however they want to visualize the wave, they cut it out of a sheet of plastic. Then all these cutouts are strung together by the artists and hung as they travel around with their exhibit.

Benton Operations Manager Karen Sommer saw the exhibit at the Wadsworth Atheneum Museum of Art and, in order to help expand the scope of the exhibit further, she invited the exhibit to the Benton over UConn’s Family Weekend. The goal of the project is to show communities and institutions, like museum visitors, how far-reaching our impacts on water can be.

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‘Unfiltered: An Exhibition About Water’ At Benton In Storrs

By Susan Dunne for CTNOW

Water is perceived many ways. It is sustenance. It is symbolic. It nourishes the ecosystem. It is reflective. It is both crystal-clear and full of tiny critters. It has an ever-changing surface. It is dangerous. It can be politicized. It is a factor of everyday life, for those fortunate enough to have easy access to it. For those without easy access, it is more precious than gold.

It makes sense that the new water-themed exhibit at Benton Museum in Storrs is presented by various academic departments at UConn: art, natural resources, environmental engineering, marine sciences, water resources. Each artwork in the show sees water through a different lens, even an abstract lens. Water is also a philosophical concept.

Six oils on canvas by Leif Nilsson of Chester can be seen in a variety of ways. The placid scenes of the Long Island Sound and creeks near the shoreline are pretty. And yet the scenes also have environmental dept.

“The general public will see the beautiful flowers and will appreciate the lighting and the atmosphere, but people who are tied in to the issues that impact the Connecticut River will look at these in a different way,” said Nancy Stula, the Benton’s director, who co-curated the exhibit. “These purple flowers are loose strife, an invasive plant. Those yellow flowers are yellow irises, which are also invasive.”

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