ST. BONAVENTURE, N.Y., July 20, 2005 — Twenty-three intensely colorful and uniquely designed journal books full of original imagery, creatively enhanced historical photographs, excerpts from poetry and rich pages of watercolor and collage are now on view in the Branch Family Gallery of The Regina A. Quick Center for the Arts at St. Bonaventure University.
Although the Branch Family Gallery is under the auspices of the Department of Visual and Performing Arts, these vivid “Imaging Journals” were surprisingly produced by 23 SBU undergraduates, most of who are pursuing future careers in biology, finance, journalism, sociology, education, psychology, history and computer science.
The unusual genesis of this display emerges out of the University’s award-winning and innovative program for humanities and sciences in the school’s Clare College core curriculum. In this particular Clare College class, the Imaging Journals are created as part of an aesthetic exploration into the profound links between visual art, theater, music and literature.
“The visual journal experience was unlike any other art experience I have had in a Clare class,” said Alicia Schichtel, a senior physical education major from West Valley, N.Y. “Creating this journal makes the artist reach deep within himself or herself to create pages of his or her own emotions shaped by experience. Personally, this made me see things in myself that I have never known before.”
The hands-on aspect of leading students to engage in personally created journals increases their visual literacy and offers firsthand experience in the essential nature of the creative process itself.
The students first embark on traditionally written research projects involving selected painters, poets, composers and authors. Then they are encouraged to imagine expanding this research to embrace visual expressions in watercolor, monotype and collage. The results are richly creative Imaging Journals that become valued artifacts of the course.
The journals also include written commentary on play production rehearsals, dance performances, classical and jazz concerts, films and art exhibitions that the St. Bonaventure students experience on campus along with their more traditional studies in literature. Many of these colorful journal pages are open and displayed in the current Imaging Journal exhibition.
“I feel that throughout my educational journey I have never been given the opportunity to create something that really represents my own personal character,” said Kerry O’Malley, a junior physical education major from West Springfield, Mass. “While orchestrating the Imaging Journal this semester, it was an eye-opening experience where I was able to express myself creatively through both art and words.”
Artist and faculty member Constance Pierce, who teaches drawing and painting in the visual and performing arts at St. Bonaventure, originated the concept for Imaging Journals that she currently adapts for this particular class. Pierce previously taught her Imaging Journal course with The Smithsonian Institution’s Campus on the Mall, the graduate Divinity School of Yale University, The Cleveland Institute of Art’s National Summer Program and the graduate program in Art Therapy Counseling at Ursuline College in Ohio, as well as private classes for educators and those in the healing professions.
“I am hoping that by engaging my students in the contemplative discipline of journal work to illuminate more fully the important connections between diverse art forms and also to nurture a connection to the interior life and to what it is like to be a fully creative human being,” Pierce said.
The journal pages by her students in this exhibition are designed and enhanced in inventive ways, including the use of watercolor pencils, iridescent acrylic paints, ink wash and pastel “resist” techniques, gesture sketching and explorations in harvesting recognizable compositions out of abstract monotype prints. Even the students’ more traditional research papers are reprinted on selected colors and creatively cut, designed and recycled onto the pages.
“Before this class I never would have thought of documenting my written work in such artistic ways,” said Amie Minderler, a senior elementary education major from Buffalo, N.Y. “It never would have occurred to me to portray papers as art or even to relate my personal experiences in these expressive ways. Once I started working on it, it was hard to stop. I must say I am very proud of the product too; I loved showing the book to my roommates.”
The students looked to the famous 18th century artist William Blake for inspiration in integrating the elements of image and text. For many students, especially those majoring in the fields of science or business, making the Imaging Journal offered a rare avenue for personal creative expression.
“I am amazed at the amount of knowledge I gained through my journal,” said Erin Sullivan, a junior accounting major from Towanda, Pa. “I feel I have found a whole new appreciation for art after experiencing first hand all the work that goes into creating something. I also think this project let me bring out my creative side, which was not one of my strong characteristics. Now I feel much more confident in trying new ideas, which I feel will be an invaluable quality to have when entering the business world.”
The Imaging Journal Exhibition was made possible by the generosity of a James Martine Endowment Grant from Clare College. The exhibition will run now through October in the Branch Family Gallery of The Regina A. Quick Center for the Arts with an overflow display of students’ Imaging Journals in the Friedsam Memorial Library, also on campus.
Museum hours are 10 a.m. to 5 p.m. Tuesday through Friday, and noon to 5 p.m. Saturday and Sunday. For information about this particular exhibit or course, e-mail email@example.com. For information about the main professional exhibition series, lecture schedule and the upcoming events at The Regina A. Quick Center for the Arts, call (716) 375-2494.
By Katie Fish