An Open Door to Beauty, Ideas and Culture

Curator Corinna Ripps Schaming discusses Shozo Nagano’s three-dimensional work “Rebirth” (1970), with student interns Xenia Joseph, a sophomore Human Biology major, and Akilah Weekes, a senior Africana Studies major. (Photos by Mark Schmidt)

ALBANY, N.Y. (Dec. 1, 2017) — It’s not too late to catch the University Art Museum’s celebratory exhibit, “When We Were Young.” Hanging on the gallery walls are pieces that reflect the Museum’s half-century journey and the beauty of some of today’s most highly praised contemporary artists. The exhibit, open through Dec. 16, is a reminder of flow of art treasures that have enhanced the UAlbany community since 1967.

“Having a museum is a perspective that just makes the goal of the University even richer,” said Corinna Ripps Schaming, curator and interim director of the museum. “Because this is our 50th anniversary, it seemed like a really good idea to look back at the collections and revisit them, and I was particularly interested in abstract work in the collection. I was trying to connect the past and present through the exhibition here.”

Schaming has been a part of the museum’s journey since the 1980s, having graduated with her MFA from UAlbany in 1984. As curator, her duties include researching contemporary art, working behind the scenes and finding unique and intriguing artists to include in the development of exhibitions.

“When you curate an exhibition, you kind of feel like every piece is your child in some way, so you have a special affection for each one for different reasons,” she said.

The University’s commitment to supporting the presentation of new ideas and culture through a contemporary art museum for 50 years is quite a legacy, Schaming said, and unusual for a pubic research university.

UAlbany University Art Museum contemporary art

Schaming and the interns reflect upon Peter Taylor’s 1975 painting “Iberian Paths No. 3.”

“The fact that we have one here is testament to this idea that art can open doors and give access to people and students,” Schaming said. “Understanding the language of art allows one to go out into the bigger world and be conversive.”

The true treasures, however, are the works of art found inside the museum’s doors. While recent exhibits have included pieces that were virtual or movement-based, reflecting on the current digital age, “When We Were Young” is more traditional in nature.

“This exhibit seems to be something students in particular have enjoyed taking time to stop and spend time with the work in ways that I haven’t seen with some of our other exhibitions,” Schaming said.

While she is connected to each piece, one of Schaming’s favorites is by the artist Chryssa. “I love the way she brings her Greek heritage and her experience living in New York City to create these abstract works that can be seen on a lot of different levels. She’s really an important figure in our history.”

Peter Taylor’s Iberian Paths No. 3, found on the second floor of the museum, is also a standout piece. Composed of many bright colored rectangles, the work evokes a warm yet calming feeling with contrasting colors such as blue, green, orange and yellow placed beside each other. Iberian Paths No. 3 is representative of Taylor’s adventures traveling through Spain.

A little further down the wall on the second floor is Shozo Nagano’s Rebirth, a three-dimensional piece that appears to be constantly moving as though it is a river between two mountains. Colors such as white, gray and black are used to exaggerate the depth aspect of the piece and to create a fascinating intricacy to each side of it.

Along with the Taylor and Nagano’s pieces, the exhibit is full of exciting and mind-challenging works that Schaming hopes will appeal to all students, not just those who are already young artists.

“I just want more and more students to feel that this is here for them and the best way to do that is to continue to bring excellent work here, work that we hope is relevant to the students and to the larger community.”

The University Art Museum is open Tuesday from 10 a.m. to 7 p.m.; Wednesday through Friday from 10 a.m. to 5 p.m.; and Saturday from noon to 4 p.m. For events and more information, visit the website.

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About the University at Albany
A comprehensive public research university, the University at Albany-SUNY offers more than 120 undergraduate majors and minors and 125 master's, doctoral, and graduate certificate programs. UAlbany is a leader among all New York State colleges and universities in such diverse fields as atmospheric and environmental sciencesbusiness, public health, health sciences, criminal justice, emergency preparedness, engineering and applied sciences, informatics, public administration, social welfare, and sociology taught by an extensive roster of faculty experts. It also offers expanded academic and research opportunities for students through an affiliation with Albany Law School. With a curriculum enhanced by 600 study-abroad opportunities, UAlbany launches great careers.