It is easy to think that the Yale University Art Gallery and the British Art Center represent the only artwork on campus. Yet while these gallery giants rightfully garner the most attention from the Yale community, too many people miss out on an important segment of the Yale creative scene: student art.
This week holds a remarkable opportunity to appreciate the work of Yale College art majors. From Nov. 4 through Nov. 10, the Yale School of Art Gallery is hosting an exhibit of the recent works of Wiley Kestner ’02 and Marian Smith ’02, Yale’s delegates to the 2001 Norfolk Summer Art Program.
“Norfolk” is an intensive six-week summer program run by Yale faculty in Norfolk. Four members of the Art School faculty and four second-year master’s students invite 24 to 26 top art students from around the world to the workshop. These students join as many as two Yale College juniors that have been selected for the program. Norfolk is not only highly selective, but highly rigorous as well.
“I would say I spent six to eight hours a day, seven days a week, in the studio painting, doing photo, printmaking or drawing”, Kestner said.
The exhibit now running in the Art School’s Holcombe T. Green Hall represents Smith and Kestner’s work during their time at Norfolk. The fifty pieces range in media from charcoal on paper to oil on canvas; Smith deals mostly with figural studies in black and white, and the majority of Kestner’s work is vibrant oil on canvas landscape.
“The show was a way to demonstrate how my experiences at Norfolk informed my current work,” says Kestner. “I tend to work best in the moment; the act of painting is the greatest reward of the endeavor for me. I paint about a specific experience I have had in a place.”
Kestner’s bold landscapes provide an interesting contrast to Smith’s works occupying the other half of the same gallery room. Her studies of the human face or figure are grouped in series and are of a much smaller scale than Kestner’s work.
“I am extremely interested in light-transparency, obscurity, shadow and the definition or lack of definition of form as a result. Also, I find the different tones or moods that different light situations convey extremely interesting,” says Smith.
Smith also stressed the amount of creative leeway that Norfolk offers its students; it is obvious from Smith and Kestner’s Norfolk work that both artists have a deep concern for their own artistic processes and experimentation.
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