Hugh Sullivan - Gilded Cages in Mount Morris Park.
Photo by Cary Whittier

In celebration of Black History Month, SUNY Empire State College presents “In the Spirit,” a multimedia exhibit showcasing the work of current students and alumni. Part of the visual arts program of the college’s Metropolitan New York Center, the exhibition opened Feb. 12 at the Livingston Gallery in the college’s Brooklyn location at 177 Livingston St., and will be on display through March 28, Monday through Thursday, noon to 5:00 p.m. Admission is free. The curator of the exhibition is Raúl Manzano, college faculty mentor and gallery coordinator; Vanessa Moore, a bachelor’s-degree candidate, is assistant curator.

“Empire State College’s visual arts program offers students the opportunity to showcase their work in a professional setting, while training students in the fields of museum and curatorial studies,” said Manzano.

“Engaging in this study has given me a different perspective on the theoretical principles and practical aspects of designing an exhibition — selecting the theme of the show, choosing the artworks, speaking with the artists, creating publicity material, exhibit installation and selecting the soul food for the reception,” said Moore, who wore different hats to learn the various roles of putting together a cultural and public event.

This juried show includes artists in different stages of their artistic career.

In a sequence of photography images, award-winning artist and educator Leslie A. Boyce interprets a spiritual moment of memory and life, its past and present. In digital photographic composite, she plays with light and color to suggest a divine moment as it enters and leaves the body.

Karioki Crosby, founding arts educator at KIPP NYC College Prep, has been fascinated with kites since childhood when he was living in Jamaica, West Indies. That spirit of freedom of flying is reflected in his work today. Crosby states, “I see kites as a symbol of hope, of all that is possible even when flown from the most devastated and war-torn communities around the world.”

Nancy Griffin envisions hope in the hands of women, particularly in African countries where rape and genocide of its women and children are escalating at alarming rates. Her watercolor, ink and sepia depiction of a male infant in the hands of many women of color is a contrasting view of the life force women are capable of, as opposed to the tyrannical anti-female societies.

Noel Hall ’s paintings are a reflection of his spiritual beliefs, as well as his understanding of the many cultures that perpetuate the spirit of humanity.

Imani Monroe ’s collage is a personal tribute to the countless contributions by blacks that have impacted the world and the life she is able to live today.

Fusing symbolism and iconographic images, Erik Moore’s paintings convey his feelings about transformation of and channeling cultural and historical constructs into contemporary concepts.

Making a political and social statement, Vanessa Moore showcases her personal views in two collages. In one, she pays homage to President Obama as the 44th and 45th president of the United States. In the other, she depicts the anniversary of the emancipation proclamation.

Jacqueline Monica Seaton, also a senior student, explores her own identity as a woman of color influenced by her Caribbean background and her adopted home in New York City. Her colorful, mixed-media images of women are expressions of her tropical island of Jamaica.

Vietnam War veteran Hugh Sullivan’s oil painting of Harlem buildings is not just an illustration of architecture, but a portrait capturing the soul and spirit of those brownstone houses and those who live there.

“In this second presentation celebrating Black History Month, this exhibition serves to emphasize the college’s mission and commitments to diversity, fostering respectful, creative and vibrant learning environments for the Empire State College community and the public at large” added Manzano, who established this annual event at the Metropolitan Center last year.

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