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Art Faculty Exhibition Brings Professors’ Talents Out of the Classroom

The Rotary Ice House Gallery hosted an opening reception for the Art Faculty Exhibition on Friday night that was attended by fellow faculty, students, friends, and family members.

The Gallery was filled with paintings, sculptures, photography and interactive art created by professors of the Art and Design Department. Each professor’s art was elegantly displayed, set up neatly to show their collection in one area along with materials used and date created.

Michael Thomas, Assistant Dean of the McMurray School of Humanities and Social Sciences, was in attendance and thought the exhibit helped him understand who the professors are and a new level of respect. “As a colleague it’s the opportunity where I get to really see what’s really going on creatively with professors and colleagues…seeing them other than teaching, advising or other array of duties,” said Thomas. “I get to know them better, like seeing Vincent DiMattio’s art and then understanding that intense, concentration and process that he has.”

DiMattio, professor of art and design, has some great art drawn on various napkin materials, showing guests that all one needs to create art is a pen, some kind of paper and an imagination.

Over a period of a week, DiMattio, who jokingly called his art “excessive” to fellow colleagues, created various pieces of art that have been collaborated into one wall of greatness.

Gina Colasurdo, a freshman art education major, thought it was “amazing” to think that the professors can teach classes and never “realized how much work they put into their own work outside of class.” One of her favorite paintings at the exhibit was Michael Donato’s, Art and Design adjunct, piece, Cupid Riding a Lion.

“I can look at my own professors’ work and know they definitely did that, that looks like something they would definitely do,” said Colasurdo. “Like Professor DiMattio’s piece, I can just see him creating that, it looks like him.”

Mary Ann Costa, a junior art major, could see some techniques in the art that she was taught in class, like Dahlia Elsayed’s, Art and Design adjunct, use of maps and text like in Dwell (Bla, Bla, Bla) that showed the mundane and routine life of rooms.

“It’s interesting to see the perspective on how they create things and what they put out to show students and everybody else,” said Costa. “It’s just interesting to see the hierarchy of the people we are looking up to, who are teaching us and what they are putting out.”

Photography by Anne Leighton Massoni, specialist professor of art and design, was beautifully serene, photos of strangers with a background of the ocean in her collection called Strangers in Irons. Some looking peaceful and calm in the Jersey shore breeze, others caught in a moment of life and spontaneity. Mark Ludak, compliance officer, technical specialist of Art and Design, and Andrew Cohen, Art and Design Chair and professor, had supreme photos of things people would not consider art, like Ludak’s Camden Scrap or Cohen’s Halong Bay.

Art Faculty 2Gina Torello, Art and Design adjunct, also had some photos on display of oak seedlings that she had found in her backyard among the oak trees. She also had a sculpture art piece on display called Get Out of My Head that showed the inner struggles of death and bills, and accomplishments like her children and a key of honesty, loyalty and truth that is stuck inside her head. Torello said she was inspired by a song by Max Richter, playing through the sculpture, and also inspired by her students.

“It makes me feel like they’ve been where I’ve been, they’re developing their creativity the same way that we do,” said Marisa Sottos, a junior photography major. “(Torello) is very inspiring herself, she’s very relatable and you can talk to her and get advice.”

Ferdinando Del Guercio, designer, technical director of music and theatre arts, also had some amazing and different kind of sculptures on display, many of which was created with found and fabricated objects. Like 4th Grade Day Dream that used a 1950’s elementary school chair and attached an old fan, a tray with a glass Coke bottle and some licorice. There was also Good Ship Eloise where Guercio used a rebuilt violin and made a ship with mice as it’s seamen.

There was plenty of art and photography on display in its usual still manner, but the exhibit also displayed documentaries created by multi-media professor, Mike Richison, including Operation 800 and Destruction 800.

Operation 800 was a great documentary of student artists creating on white walls, tiny pieces slowly coming together and making one great room of booming art. Destruction 800 had many of the visitors in a standstill, left in awe as the old art building is demolished, exclaiming “Oh my god” with each passing image.

Richison also created some interactive art using the images from Destruction 800 that allowed visitors to create their own art with the use of their hands. Altbauten Aufbauen (Building Old Buildings) used Microsoft Kinect technology (like the X-Box Kinect), along with a software program created by Zachary Seldess, that gave the participant five different images of destruction as a basis for their work.

While the Gallery showcased the creative and hard work of the professors, the reception was a friendly gathering where students, fellow faculty, and family members enjoyed each other’s companies. They gave each other pleasant compliments, students chatting with their professors and friends catching up with each other.

“It’s a celebration of the art, of this community of artists and their students, I see other professors, I see people from the surrounding community, students and friends of the artist. It’s a celebration,” said Thomas.

The Faculty Exhibition will be on display at the Rotary Ice House Gallery until March 9. The Gallery is open Monday through Friday 9:00 am to 5:00 pm. For more information on this exhibit, contact Scott Knauer, Director of Galleries and Collections, at 732-923-4786 or by e-mail at