“Collective Consciousness: New Work by SUNY New Paltz Art Faculty” opens Feb. 6 at The Dorsky Museum

The Samuel Dorsky Museum of Art at SUNY New Paltz announces “Collective Consciousness: New Work by SUNY New Paltz Art Faculty,” a group exhibition of Department of Art faculty members showing their collective strength through a range of approaches to contemporary art.

The exhibition will be on view from Feb. 6 – April 11, 2021, in the Alice and Horace Chandler Gallery and North Gallery.

It is guest curated by Karlyn Benson and includes metalwork, ceramics, photography, printmaking, fiber art, film, painting, drawing and several sculptural installations by 21 artists and educators: Robin Arnold, Michael Asbill, Lynn Batchelder, Bryan Czibesz, Aurora De Armendi, James Fossett, Andrea Frank, Matthew Friday, Anne Galperin, Kathy Goodell, Andrea Kantrowitz, Rena Leinberger, Myra Mimlitsch-Gray, Aaron Nelson, Itty S. Neuhaus, Jill Parisi-Phillips, Emily Puthoff, Nadia Sablin, Anat Shiftan, Suzanne Stokes and Cheryl Wheat.

Anat Shiftan, “Still Life with Fruit and Twigs in Shades of Yellow,” 2020, courtesy the artist

About the Exhibition
“Collective Consciousness” refers to the sense of community at the College and the Department of Art faculty’s ability to come together for each other and their students during the COVID-19 pandemic. The exhibition includes a wide range of mediums and subject matter, yet underscores the artists’ shared common interests in nature, the environment, social issues and experimentation with materials. The exhibition itself is a communal experience, a way for faculty to share what they have been working on during a time marked by isolation and distance.

Several themes emerge from the work in the exhibition, the most prominent being an interest in nature and a concern for the environment. Andrea Kantrowitz’s highly detailed paintings of minerals and plants reveal the complexity of natural forms, while Michael Asbill’s installation, FACSIMILE, maps a hollow log to create a copy in plywood and explore the inherent limitations of replicating nature, while simultaneously communing deeply with it.

Numerous works in “Collective Consciousness” directly or indirectly address the damaging effects of climate change. Robin Arnold’s colorful abstract landscapes reflect the artist’s interest in environmental and cultural issues, and Emily Puthoff and Matthew Friday work collaboratively with community groups the Hudson Valley Bee Habitat and SPURSE, respectively, on projects dedicated to strengthening and protecting the ecosystems around us.

A number of works in the exhibition feature images of people and reference community or place, such as James Fossett’s black-and-white portraits of attendees at a memorial for his mother, and Nadia Sablin’s captivating photographs documenting a family of reindeer herders struggling to maintain their ancient way of life in the Arctic tundra.

A collective sense of experimentation in a variety of mediums and materials pervades the exhibition as well. Technology is used in interesting ways to interpret contemporary issues, from Anne Galperin’s garments and textiles containing digital data, to Aaron Nelson’s studies of the ways technology both shapes social discourse and the things we create.

Itty Neuhaus’s installation, In-Touch, directly responds to the COVID-19 pandemic by combining drawings of hands with a video of the artist washing in a stream. She writes: “In-Touch… is a way to express and share the restless, anxious state of mind, the sense of alienation that is ironically so universal. Vexing questions surround this period of isolation: are we together, when we are alone? Can we stay in touch when we feel so distant, so out of touch?”

This exhibition suggests that the answer is yes. We can stay in touch even though we are apart, especially when we are connected by a common experience.

The works in “Collective Consciousness” offer proof of this connection. These faculty artists have had to reinvent their methods of teaching and working to engage and support students online as well as in the classroom, while continuing to produce their own work. This exhibition demonstrates their persistence, their unity and their strength during challenging times.

About Guest Curator Karlyn Benson
Karlyn Benson is Exhibitions Director at Woodstock Byrdcliffe Guild in Woodstock, New York. She was the owner and director of Matteawan Gallery in Beacon, New York, from 2013 – 2018.

Since 2018 she has been assisting artists with writing and marketing their work through Karlyn Benson Creative Consulting. In 2020 she launched Art Valley, a blog about art in the Hudson Valley region. Previously she worked as an Executive Assistant at AEA Consulting, a cultural consulting firm in Beacon. Karlyn also worked in the Registrar Department at the Museum of Modern Art in New York and was the gallery manager at Candace Perich Gallery in Katonah, New York.

Benson earned her MA in Art History from the University of Texas, Austin and a BA in Art History from SUNY Purchase. She currently lives in Beacon.

Exhibition Programs

The Dorsky will offer a number of online exhibition-related programs and events to the public throughout the spring. For the latest information about public programs  please visit http://www.newpaltz.edu/museum or call (845) 257-3844.

Safety during COVID-19
At the Dorsky Museum, safety comes first. Visitors are required to wear masks and maintain a distance of six feet between households or groups at all times. Galleries have a maximum visitor capacity to allow for safe social distancing. Hand-sanitizing stations are available for visitors upon entering the Museum, and we are conducting frequent cleaning. Please sanitize your hands upon entry and stay home if you are feeling unwell. Please also limit the number of personal belongings and bags you bring to the Museum as we will not be offering coat or bag storage. Thank you for helping us keep our community safe!

About The Dorsky Museum
Through its collections, exhibitions and public programs, the Samuel Dorsky Museum of Art at SUNY New Paltz supports and enriches the academic programs at the College, presents a broad range of world art for study and enjoyment and serves as a center for Hudson Valley arts and culture. The museum is widely recognized as the premier public showplace for exhibition, education and cultural scholarship about the Hudson Valley region’s art and artists from yesterday and today. With more than 9,000 square feet of exhibition space distributed over six galleries, The Dorsky Museum is one of the largest museums in the SUNY system. Since its official dedication on Oct. 20, 2001, The Dorsky has presented more than 100 exhibitions, including commissions, collection-based projects and in-depth studies of contemporary artists including Robert Morris, Alice Neel, Judy Pfaff, Carolee Schneemann and Ushio Shinohara.

Funding for The Dorsky’s exhibitions and programs is provided by generous donors and friends of the Samuel Dorsky Museum of Art and the State University of New York at New Paltz.

Museum Hours: Wednesday–Sunday, 11 a.m. – 5 p.m. Closed Mondays, Tuesdays, holidays, and intersessions. For more information about The Dorsky Museum and its programs, visit http://www.newpaltz.edu/museum or call (845) 257-3844.