Organic cotton. Vegetable parchment. Latex. Aluminum. All these materials and more were dyed, sewn and otherwise transformed by recent graduates of the Fordham College at Lincoln Center (FCLC) Visual Arts Program for a special exhibition of new and recent paintings, drawings, photography and design. The exhibition, which highlights the work of 16 alumni artists, opened in the Center and Push Pin galleries during FCLC’s Eighth Alumni Reunion.
“[This exhibit] wouldn’t exist without your participation,” Abby Goldstein, director of the visual arts program, told alumni during an opening reception in the Center Gallery on June 6. “Your work is invigorating and inspiring.”
James Vanderberg (FCLC ’02), an adjunct professor in Fordham’s visual arts department since fall 2007, curated the show, the department’s second exhibition of alumni work in recent years. He also curated the first alumni show, “After School Special,” in 2005.
“As romantic as it sounds, this is really a dream come true—to be back at the place that taught me how to think in a visual way and to express my creative impulses,” said Vanderberg, whose own oil painting, Le Jour sur la Colline, appears in the Push Pin Gallery.
Many of the alumni artists featured in the exhibition have garnered awards for their work, secured positions at museums, publishers, studios and architecture firms, and attended top M.F.A. programs around the country.
“All the work is strong,” Vanderberg said, “and the greatest thing about curating a show is watching how the work speaks to one another on the wall and in the space.
“Certain themes emerge in a unique way, including that of nostalgia, identity, environmental-political conversation and a question of the very reality we live in.”
Carl Gunhouse (FCLC ’99), an adjunct professor at Cooper Union, Montclair State University and Nassau Community College, said that the friendships he forged at Fordham remain strong and keep him connected to his work and the art world.
“It’s like a club. I’ve always enjoyed being at Fordham,” said Gunhouse, who went on to graduate from Yale University’s M.F.A. in photography program in 2003. “It’s nice to have a piece of me on the wall. To see what we’ve come to, it’s impressive.”
Equally impressive, Vanderberg said, is the expansion of the visual arts program’s facilities and curriculum at both the Rose Hill and Lincoln Center campuses.
“The possibilities for students are much greater now [than they were when I was an undergraduate],” he said. “To be a part of that as a professor is very exciting.”
Vanderberg, who received his M.F.A. from Hunter College in May, said he hopes the alumni exhibition will become a biennial affair at Fordham, a way to highlight the successes of the visual arts program while strengthening the network of alumni artists—at home and abroad.
The opportunity to study abroad, Vanderberg said, has been central to his development as an artist and a professor. While at Hunter, he earned a Luetz/Riedel Fellowship to spend a semester at the L’École Nationale Superier Des Beaux Arts in Paris, France. He also studied abroad during his undergraduate days at Fordham, receiving a Susan Lapani Travel Scholarship to participate in a summer arts program in Orvieto, Italy. It was, he said, a “life-changing” experience.
While studying in Orvieto in 2001, Vanderberg reunited with a former classmate, Lauren Portada (FCLC ’00), who had worked with Vanderberg as an artist assistant at Fordham. Portada, traveling with Gunhouse, was visiting the town where she had studied two summers prior.
“James and I had a funny run-in in Italy during the summer arts program,” said Portada, a 2005–2006 Fulbright Scholar to India who is now, like Vanderberg, an adjunct professor in the visual arts department. “We had created a unique community in Orvieto, and so when [James] asked me to be a part of [the alumni exhibition], I said, without hesitation, ‘Sure, whatever you need.’”
Portada’s Untitled (Here Comes the Sun), a vibrant display of gouache paint fanning out from a plastic toilet paper roll cover made in India, is one of the more colorful works in the exhibition.
“The strength of the faculty is represented in the work,” Vanderberg said. “The strength of the work speaks for itself.”
Other alumni artists featured in the exhibit, which continues through July 26, are: Maria Berkova (FCLC ’02), Bosko Blagojevic (FCLC ’06), Dylan Chandler (FCLC ’04), Martha Clippinger (FCRH ’05), Matt Crowther (FCLC ’03), Tiffany Edwards (FCLC ’02), Rich Garr (FCRH ’02), Danielle Jones (FCLC ’02), Katie Latona (FCLC ’03), Caitlin McKee (FCLC ’06), Neha (Mistry) Motipara (FCLC ’04), and Ted Partin (FCLC ’00).