Binghamton University Art Museum combines permanent collection with faculty artwork

Professors use older pieces to create sculptures, photographs and prints

On Thursday, the Binghamton University Art Museum released 11 pieces for exhibition. Unlike most of the museum’s permanent collection, these pieces all came directly from the University.

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Janine Furtado/Assistant Photo Editor Students gather Thursday to view art created by Binghamton University art professors. The University Art Museum exhibited the artwork, which came from a variety of mediums including paintings and photography.

“Affinities, Dialogues & Divergences” is a monthlong exhibition that pairs artwork by BU faculty in the art department with a piece from the museum’s collection.

In the fall, 11 professors searched the archives for a piece that appealed to them and studied it. They then spent winter break completing their pieces, which will be on display from April 22 to May 24.

From paintings to photography and cartography, a variety of genres were chosen from the collection. But according to Diane Butler, director of the museum and creator of the exhibit concept, the art submitted was even more diverse.

“The responses have been eclectic. One photographer made a photograph in response. A printmaker made a response in dialogue with a print, pretty direct,” Butler said. “But then other people have gone down very different paths.”

Butler referred to Jim Stark, an associate professor in the art department, who made a bronze sculpture to pair to a 17th-century map. Ronald Gonzales, an art professor who teaches sculpture, connected fragments of shoes, leather and nails to pair with a 13th-century wooden statue of Jesus.

Natalija Mijatovic, chair of the art department, decided to record herself singing the sheet of medieval music she found in the permanent collection.

“I looked through more than 3,000 images in the collection, and I was very affected by the music sheet,” she said. “God knows the last time the music was actually sung aloud.”

While Mijatovic said she spent hours going through the collection, other artists said their processes were simpler.

“The piece that I found didn’t take me too long, maybe an hour going through the archive,” said Costa Sakellariou, a photography professor, about the 1974 French picture he chose.

But creating his piece for the exhibit was much more of a process: Sakellariou said he had to travel to Istanbul to take the photo he wanted to use.

“I kind of knew in my mind what I was looking for before I found it. And then it was a question of just working it,” he said.

As students, faculty and local residents walked through the exhibit, many said they were impressed with the local talent.

Jackie Xiang, a senior majoring in integrative neuroscience, came to see one of her professor’s pieces.

“It’s pretty awesome to know that the professors don’t just have experience but that they are also still working,” she said. “You also have a better understanding of their teaching style and where they get their teaching methods from.”

Midway through the exhibition a fellow professor asked Mijatovic if the Byzantine music recording was really her voice. Mijatovic, who normally teaches painting, said she understood.

“Everyone is in shock because they expect to see a painting,” she said. “But when I saw the music sheet I had no doubt.”