THE GRADUATE STUDENT COLLOQUIUM
A SERIES OF LECTURES BY BROOKLYN COLLEGE
GRADUATE STUDENT SCHOLARS
The Graduate Student Colloquium series has gained much respect for the quality of research and scholarly activity by graduate students. The Colloquium is presented near the end of each semester as a showcase for graduate student research or creative projects, usually, but not always, associated with their master's thesis research. Each participant prepares a 20-30 minute presentation followed by a cordial, informal, and often lively question and answer period. As part of the selection process, we bring together students of different backgrounds and disciplines in order to create a truly interdisciplinary atmosphere. The discussions that follow the presentations are quite interesting in themselves.
The Colloquium is a distinct honor for those graduate students chosen to participate. Applicants are recommended directly by their departments or programs for the selection process. The applications are supported by the students' academic record, research, and/or creative activities. The Colloquium gives graduate students a distinct opportunity make professional level presentations and has become a major event in the academic year. The Colloquium is open to the public.
The following students made presentations this semester
Portraiture: Creating Drawings and Paintings of Children.
A study of human nature given by Joseph Loguirato, M.A., '02, M. A. L. S. Program, at the Graduate Colloquium, May 14, 2002.
Portraiture is not a solitary endeavor, because there must be an artist-subject interaction in order for the final piece to capture the nature of the individual. Most often the artist must process pertinent information concerning the character of the sitter and then translate it into a mutually acceptable depiction.
I begin with a few sketches of my children in profile. I think profiles are easier than frontal or three-quarter views because profiles present a more linear perspective of form and facial characteristics. The linear quality of a profile is easier to see, therefore it is easier to re-create. The profile also allows me a comfortable way of acclimating myself to the larger project. The sketches I create are not exceptional, but they are a good starting point. The kids find it amusing.
Art should be as natural as possible, uninhibited and not contrived. This does not mean that a plan, a preconceived intention, or a creative idea should be implemented without thought or purpose, but that a mental image or concept should find a way to a tangible art form in the most innate process possible to the artist.
Quite often the struggle I experience during the process of creating art is lost in time if the piece is successful. If the piece is not successful, it becomes a constant reminder of the struggle whenever I look at it.
One of my larger pieces is of Matthew. It is a large drawing that measures thirty inches by forty inches on white museum board. It consists of a simple pose that reflects his quiet, introspective nature, and physical adeptness. The figure is cropped tight, and the hands are a bit large to increase a sense of potential within him. I achieve a likeness in the line drawing with unexpected speed and continue to develop the tonal qualities of the image without much difficulty. The drawing has certain qualities that bring to mind the work of Alice Neel and Paul Cadmus. I think of Neel's portraits because of their psychological quality and her skill in creating uncluttered compositions that emphasize the subject's nature. Body language and the relationship of people to the picture plane can do much in presenting an individual's identity. Much of Neel's work reflects noncommissioned portraits that encompass social types and metaphors within the American culture. My technique involves the representation of detail and subtle variations in values as they relate to volume and light. The three-dimensionality of form is slowly built up with small strokes of the pencil. The strokes follow the direction of the form so as to complement its shape and movement--a technique that Cadmus mastered in his painting and that I find very exciting. It is a technique that is pleasing in the final art and sensible in the development of the piece, and that reinforces the structure of form. Of course, the quality of art depends on much more than technique, but the way an artist uses materials and tools is integral to the end result and should reinforce the basic concept.
Archetypal Journey to the Feminine Self.
An abstract of the speech given by Kathleen Forman, M.A., '02, M.A.L.S. Program, at the Graduate Colloquium, May 14, 2002.
As both an artist and an intellectual, I have always integrated ideas and images that enabled me to view my life through a lens quite different from those around me. My own path is directed by an eclectic mix of philosophies that culminated from my life experiences, the people who have influenced me, and the synchronicity of information that crossed my path in the past, and that continues to direct and move me forward on my personal journey today.
When I entered the Master of Arts in Liberal Studies Program, I felt the course offerings coincided with the underlying theme that has guided my life, the nature of self in relation to both the physical and spiritual realms. This theme revealed itself in the writings I chose to read in my early twenties. Herman Hesse's Siddhartha and Narcissus and Goldman inspired me to contemplate the dualities of life and the choices we make. Carlos Castaneda's The Teachings of Don Juan and Ken Kesey' The Electric Kool Aid Acid Test opened my mind to the possibilities of other states of consciousness. Ram Dass's Be Here Now gently guided me to live and enjoy the present moment to the fullest. Throughout the MALS program, the underlying theme was an investigation of "self" through the lenses of various disciplines with the underlying question being, "What is the guiding principle of self throughout one's lifetime?"
This question reiterated itself in various literary works we explored. I observed literary characters navigating the joys and tribulations of their lives and gained insight into the guiding principles used in their journeys. For Job of the Old Testament, the guiding principle was yirah or fear of God. For Von Strassburg's Tristan and Isolde, it was love. For Sir Gawain, it was honor. For Shakespeare's Prospero, it was loyalty. For Hawthorne's Hester and the Reverend Dimsdale, it was redemption. For Kafka's Gregor Samsa, it was liberation. Each character revealed his or her approach to this recurring question, but collectively they provided only a partial answer. I felt there had to be something that would embrace all of these principles and serve as the ultimate guiding principle in one's life journey.
My conclusion was that introspection should be the guiding principle of self throughout one's lifetime. Introspection, by its nature, leads to self-knowledge. It also facilitates the shift from contemplation of the secular to the sacred. When one knows oneself, then one also comes to know his or her place in both the physical and spiritual realms. This guiding principle brings one into a personal relationship with God, though not necessarily one of fear. It also guides one through love, honor, loyalty, redemption, and liberation.
The hero's journey is a theme that recurs throughout history, and its presence is felt in our own lifetime. The hero is someone who has given his life to something bigger than himself. The journey consists of episodic events and trials that impart revelations, knowledge, and lessons about life. The journey becomes the vehicle for transformation of consciousness, usually representing the states from innocence to maturity. We can journey with the hero in The Iliad and The Odyssey, or Sir Gawain and the Green Knight, or by reading about the life of Jesus Christ or watching Luke Skywaker in the Star Wars episodes, or by following the lives of the heroes of the World Trade Center tragedy in the media. This theme is embraced by all people of all cultures because, instinctively, each of us knows that life is the ultimate journey. Furthermore, we all can relate to the hero-his strengths, his weaknesses, his vulnerability, his temptations, his glories, his life. The obstacles become his milestones and his legacy, as he meets them with acceptance, knowing they are there to spur him on to self-growth.
Joseph Campbell stated that every person's life should be viewed as a hero's journey. His words framed my life as the heroine because of the way I have always approached the joys and trials in my life-head on, with intensity and determination. I view all my experiences as lessons about life that present opportunities for introspection, from which I am able to glean revelations and find meaning. This philosophy continues to assist me in my personal transformation of consciousness today.
It is with this in mind that I set about documenting my journey to self through the various life stages I have experienced as a woman. Writing about each photograph provided the opportunity to bring into focus my beliefs, revelations, and understanding of how those experiences created meaning within my life. The images do not represent every woman's journey, but they do embrace aspects of life's journey that everyone can relate to. My second intention was to create images that would inspire viewers to reflect on the influences and stages which facilitated their own growth and self-knowledge and which imbued their lives with meaning. In essence, this work would serve as a shift from seeing the images in the context of the secular to the sacred.
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This lecture series is presented with support from the Office of the Dean of Graduate Studies and Research and from the Office of the Dean of Student Life.