Elora Tocci | Staff Writer
Lisa Jakab, School of Art student, ran into a Chautauquan on the Institution grounds last week.
It was a Chautauquan she recognized from last summer, the first season Jakab spent at the art school.
The Chautauquan had a special connection to Jakab – she had purchased one of Jakab’s oil paintings from last summer. They stopped to chat, and she ended up inviting Jakab into her home to show her where she hung the painting.
“It was a good feeling to see my work again in the context of its new home,” Jakab said.
The Chautauqua School of Art Annual Student Show, opening with a reception from 3 p.m. to 5 p.m. Sunday in the Fowler-Kellogg Art Center, helps foster these connections among art students and the greater Chautauqua community. Don Kimes, artistic director of Visual Arts at Chautauqua Institution, said the show gives Chautauquans a chance to look at and purchase the work the students have been cultivating for their first three and a half weeks here, as well as giving the students a chance to clear out their studios in preparation for the second half of their summer.
The show displays an eclectic mix of art, from paintings and drawings to sculptures and ceramics.
The art students essentially spend all day every weekday honing their crafts, creating and reworking and critiquing alone, with faculty and with one another. Each student works at his or her own pace, but Kimes said altogether hundreds of pieces have been crafted in the first half of the season. Each of the 40 student artists selects three to five pieces for Kimes, who then chooses two or three pieces from each student to display in the show.
There is no overall theme for the show — it is simply a collection of the students’ most inspired pieces in whatever form they take. Kimes said the show happens in the middle of the season to prevent the students working toward the show, allowing them to make art based on personal decisions and not on what they think will appeal to audiences.
“I want art to be the focus,” Kimes said. “I don’t want people feeling like they have to make pieces for a particular show. It’s a sampling of where they are in the middle of the season.”
But this doesn’t mean lower quality work — in fact, it means the opposite. Jakab said she sold “quite a bit of work” last summer, and the sales kept her energized for the remainder of the summer.
“It felt great to know the people buying my art were very passionate about it,” she said. “As artists, we make work for it to be seen, shared and enjoyed.”
Kimes said this summer’s admissions process was competitive and students were admitted from all over the country, from semi-locals at Syracuse University and Alfred University to students from California and the Midwest. Admissions are based entirely on a student’s portfolio, and the work that sets admitted students apart in the admissions process reflects in the high caliber of the show.
“It’s so nice to see the (students’) work out of the context of their studios, with clean walls around it,” Kimes said. “It’s a real celebration of what they’ve been doing up to this point.”