Art auction supports Sandy relief

The School of Art’s Wednesday auction raised $3,885 for Hurricane Sandy relief charities.
The School of Art’s Wednesday auction raised $3,885 for Hurricane Sandy relief charities. Photo by Maria Zepeda.

The School of Art held a charity auction Wednesday to provide support for victims of Hurricane Sandy.

Students, faculty and New Haven art connoisseurs gathered in the school’s Green Gallery to bid on 66 pieces of original student, faculty and alumni artwork. Bidders were given the choice to donate to one of five causes — the Red Cross, AmeriCares Hurricane Sandy Disaster Relief Fund, Occupy Sandy, Breezy Point Disaster Relief Fund or Printed Matter, a nonprofit bookstore that was severely flooded during the storm. The auction, spearheaded by photography professor Lisa Kereszi ART ’00, raised $3,885 in total, said Patricia DeChiara, the school’s director of academic affairs.

“We try to support organizations where [a higher] percentage of money is [spent] in the affected area,” said Associate Dean of the School of Art Samuel Messer, who helped organize the event.

Messer, a longtime resident of New York, said he witnessed the devastation firsthand in areas such as Rockaway and Chelsea, where the hurricane destroyed many galleries. He added that the auction was not meant to benefit the art community alone.

After watching an NBC television special that raised money for victims of Hurricane Sandy, Kereszi said she was inspired to take action.

“I just felt a sense of being stuck and unable to help from here [in New Haven],” Kereszi said. “I wanted to somehow do more than just donate 50 bucks here, 20 bucks there.”

Kereszi donated several pieces to the auction, including “Joe’s Junkyard” — an autographed book illustrating photographs of scrapped cars — and prints entitled “Red Room” and “Girls on the Beach.” The auction also included a variety of acrylic paintings, prints, photographs and a sculpture made of used videocassette tapes.

Kati Gegenheimer ART ’13 donated an enamel and acrylic painting she titled “Let The Mussels Do the Talking,” an abstract work she selected due to its nautical theme.

“Everyone lost a lot [in the hurricane], and a painting is the least I could contribute to help,” Gegenheimer said.

Erin Desmond ART ’14 contributed an untitled photograph from her series “People in My Bed,” which depicts two people in an embrace on a bed’s golden sheets. She explained that she chose the work due to its focus on interpersonal connections, which are the foundation of giving.

Maria Lorenz, an assistant professor at the School of Art, contributed one of the most popular works at the auction. The print — which sold for $240 — was an inked collagraph, a type of print,  depicting a net found in New York City’s Jamaica Bay, one of the areas devastated by Sandy.

“I was almost hesitant to include [the print] because it’s connected to tidal and coastal disasters — I feel like there’s a precedent of human disaster,” Lorenz said. “But I chose it because it had to do with the harbor, and that was an area that was affected by the hurricane.”

Six spectators said they enjoyed seeing the artwork at the event and appreciated the good cause motivating the auction.

“The artwork has a lot of optimism,” said Joseph Cifferelli, a New Haven-based picture framer and mixed-media artist. “The art has a little playfulness to it.”

In January 2010, the School of Art held a charity auction to raise money for Haitian earthquake relief.

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