Berrie Center launches 2020 senior thesis exhibition

Photo by Danielle DeAngelis

In the second floor Berrie Center art gallery, students, faculty and visitors explored the 2020 visual arts senior thesis exhibition during the week of Sept. 27. 

The collection, titled “Here Now,” presents various mediums of art created by graduated Ramapo art students, as it was postponed in the spring due to COVID-19 safety precautions. 

“After campus was closed, many [of the students] expressed disappointments about postponing the exhibition and canceling the graduation rituals,” senior thesis professor Shalom Gorewitz said. “I reminded this talented and lively cohort of students to put their art to work to witness, respond and begin to fantasize about post-corona culture. Artists are prepared to survive through hard times.” 

The exhibition was divided into five thematic sections: “Anxiety and Foreboding,” “Dystopian Visions,” “Landscapes of Nostalgia and Memory,” “Absurdity and Hope” and, perhaps the most standout section, “Every Body Tells a Story.” 

“Every Body Tells a Story” mostly displayed photography showcasing bare or vulnerable body parts. One collection of photographs, “Same as David” by Samantha Bennett, depicted the nude human figure with a feminist perspective. She incorporated angular direction throughout these images that were notably inspired by famous early sculptures and paintings. 

Bennett argues that these classic works are more positively perceived in comparison to modern photography. When describing her work, Bennett said, “Pieces like the Statue of David or Grande Odalisque are seen as important pieces in the history of truly great art. However, when photography is the medium, it is not met with the same understanding and attitude.” 

Another standout photography collection in this section of the exhibit was “Touch” by Alexa Pignatelli. In her photography, Pignatelli focuses on different sets of hands. Working hands, holding hands, washing hands and sculpting hands of all different ages are featured in this collection of digital images. 

“I chose to hyper focus on the hands to create a new meaning to the idea of portraiture,” Pignatelli said. “Human hands hold such a power; they are all unique and have guided us through our lives.” 

While all of the art throughout the exhibit stood out as impressive, there was a clear eeriness walking through the physically empty rooms. All visitors had to schedule a time online when they planned to tour the display in order to avoid major crowding. Off campus visitors were also required to fill out a form stating exactly what they intend to do and visit while on campus as a safety precaution amid the pandemic. 

Relating to this, a dedication was made at the end of the provided “Here Now” pamphlet.

“‘Here Now’ is dedicated to those who have been affected by the COVID-19 pandemic, including those at Ramapo College and their families,” photographer Tyler Manuele wrote. “We thank all the medical workers and first responders who are heroically working to save lives during this stressful time.”