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A Place to Refine Artistic Vision

Two works by Vanessa Mastronardi, MFA '18: Flamingo Farm at left, and a 2018 installation at right. 

ALBANY, N.Y. (September 25, 2018) — Edward Mayer — professor, renowned sculptor and former head of UAlbany’s sculpture program — defines the role of the artist/teacher as “assisting exceptionally ambitious, hard-working and insightful artists to negotiate a challenging and rapidly changing art world environment.”

He spoke of students such as Vanessa Mastronardi, a very recent success story of the Department of Art & Art History. Mastronardi, who graduated with an MFA in May, is the winner of the prestigious International Sculpture Center's (ISC’s) Outstanding Student Achievement in Contemporary Sculpture Award for 2018.

Mastronardi was nominated for the award by Mayer, who, along with sculpture instructor and technician Roger Bisbing, recruited her to UAlbany in 2016. He was enthusiastic after seeing her work earlier that year during her three-month residency at the Franconia Sculpture Park in Minnesota.

Vanessa Mastronardi sculptor at UAlbany

                          Vanessa Mastronardi and her artistic statement 

“It was easy to see in her application materials that she had a confidence and commitment that merited a quick acceptance,” said Mayer. He added that it was campus support from a Terri Boor Graduate Fellowship that made it possible for Vanessa, a Canadian citizen, to move to Albany and offset tuition costs.

After enrolling, Mastronardi exhibited her work in the University Art Museum, as well at Albany Center Gallery, the North Bennington Outdoor Sculpture Show, Salem (N.Y.) Art Works, and Franconia.

“During the two years of her studies,” said Mayer, “Vanessa took advantage of every opportunity to broaden her perspective and refine her vision, creating richly colorful tableaus and theatrical narratives that could be simultaneously humorous, enchanting, perplexing and absurd. Recommending her to the ISC for recognition as she approached completion of her MFA studies was a given.”

“I and my colleagues will enjoy and learn watching the continuing evolution and successes of her art.

ISC’s "Outstanding Student Achievement in Contemporary Sculpture Award" was created in 1994 to recognize young sculptors and also to draw attention to the sculpture programs of their 138 participating universities, colleges and art schools from eight countries. Mastronardi believes such attention is well-merited in UAlbany’s case.

“UAlbany was great! — awesome facilities and great faculty,” she said. “I had a killer cohort as well. Very thankful for the group of people I graduated with.”

While here, Mastronardi was able to receive continued invaluable support and mentorship from acclaimed sculptor Royden Mills, who she met as an undergraduate at the University of Alberta. She valued the faculty studio visits at UAlbany conducted by Adam Frelin and Melissa Thorne.

“These are 45 minute visits one-on-one in your studio every two or three weeks,” she said. “Each student works with three faculty simultaneously but meets with them separately. Adam and Melissa worked closely with me and were huge resources, as was Danny Goodwin.”

Frelin and Goodwin also appeared as visiting artists for Mastronardi in July when she created and directed a four-week Canadian residency at Salem Art Works. She received a $23,800 grant from the Canada Council for the Arts for the project, which included her curating a group of 10 Edmonton-based artists, organizing all logistics, designing and publishing a catalogue, and making her own large-scale installation.

Mastronardi has now moved to Philadelphia and will be featured in the October issue of the ISC publication Sculpture — “my favorite magazine!” she points out.

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