campus news & events

Colby-Sawyer College Presents Exhibition of New Media Art

NEW LONDON, N.H. - The Fine and Performing Arts Department at Colby-Sawyer College will host “New Media Now,” an exhibition of artworks created with new media technologies, featuring video installation, video sculpture, sound and interactivity. The featured artists include Brian Burnett, David Colagiovanni, Peter Harp, MacGregor Harp, Roxana Perez-Mendez and Soo Sunny Park.

New Media Now opens at the Marian Graves Mugar Art Gallery at the Sawyer Fine Arts Center on Thursday, Jan. 29, at 6 p.m., with an opening reception and gallery talk with the artists at 7 p.m. Refreshments will be served, and the event is free and open to the public. The exhibition continues through February 26.

New media art refers to a genre of works created with new technologies such as digital, video, computer animation and the internet, with practices ranging from conceptual and virtual art to performance and installation. The New Media Now exhibition will include some installations in which the artists combine new media with traditional media such as painting, graphic design and sculpture.

“What artists are creating with these new tools, combined with their expertise in traditional fields, offers a whole new means of expression and an innovative approach to art making,” says Rebekah Tolley, assistant professor of Fine and Performing Art and gallery director at Colby-Sawyer. “A lot of cutting-edge contemporary work in galleries today is usually a form of new media, and it's an art form that many colleges and universities have built labs and entire programs around. Today students come to college with much more computer experience and are prepared to and interested in using technology in their work. It's a language students are already familiar with and allows them access to a world of possibilities.”

In designing the show, Tolley selected successful young artists who approach new media in entirely different ways. Four of the artists have educational background and training in sculpture and teach at different colleges and universities (Dartmouth, UNC-Chapel Hill and Ohio), and two are multi-media graphic designers.

Sculptor Brian Burnett, a visiting lecturer of Studio Art at Dartmouth College, has spent time studying urban routes, zones and boundaries, and began to question what constitutes the “soul of property.” As he explored the spatial concepts, poetics and political agendas attributed to such locales, he began pursuing questions through his work about the ambivalent conditions that make up our spatial boundaries.

“In examining these curiosities, I began with a search for discarded objects that encompass such places as street fronts, allies, abandoned sites,” he says. “The refuse and images I collect from these 'non-sites' are found encoded with a record of ritualistic behaviors and habits by the people who produce and use them. As a result the grid, autotelic, emblematic and mythic, often appears as an underlying structure of my work, signifying an ethereal approach toward social values and its paradoxical affect on the collective psyche.”

In his work, Burnett often assembles mundane materials, kitsch, industrial hard ware, demolition debris and other “urban detritus” to create what he describes as a “chaotic blend of objective mutations that coexist between the boundaries of fact and fiction. “My ideas are initially generated from the 'ebb and flow' of mass culture, whereas found objects are put to uses that belie their original intent.”

A resident of Hartford, Vt., Burnett earned a BFA in sculpture at Columbus College of Art and Design and an MFA in Sculpture at Washington University. He teaches courses in drawing, sculpture and design. He is the recipient of numerous grants, scholarships and fellowships and has exhibited his work widely in the United States.

A native of Carver, Mass., David Colagiovanni combines sculpture, video and media, blending industrial and ordinary materials with projected video, monitors, LCD TVs and surveillance equipment. Formally trained as a painter and sculptor, Colagiovanni, a visiting professor at Ohio University, continues to make small drawings and short-run zines in addition to his new media work. “Through performance and a landscape of various electronic and physical materials, my current research investigates freedom and escape through the depiction of flight, floatation and levitation,” he says. “In my web-based works I explore the web as a psychedelic condition and an artificial space.”

For the exhibition, Colagiovanni will present his animation, “P.S. and yellowish with sunglasses that are nylon neon,” which explores people's desire for freedom and escape. The piece celebrates the legacy of Larry Walters, who in 1982 attached 43 weather balloons to a lawn chair and traveled up to 16,000 feet over Los Angeles (violating federal air space). The artist hopes to float a lawn chair buoyed by helium balloons in the gallery and track its descent and deflation over the course of the exhibition.

Colagiovanni earned an MFA in sculpture and video from the University of North Carolina-Chapel Hill and a BFA in painting and sculpture from the University of Maine, Orono. His work has been exhibited nationally. He was the recipient of the Figurative Sculpture Award from the University of North Carolina-Chapel Hill, the Elizabeth Graves Foundation for the Studio Arts and the United Arts Council Artist's Grant.

A resident of Brooklyn, N.Y., MacGregor Harp works primarily in motion graphics, broadcast graphics, print design and interactive/experience design. He also has a keen interest in typography and lettering. Since graduating with a BFA in graphic design from California Institute for the Arts in 2007, Harp has worked for notable companies such as Brand New School, VH1 and Lifelong Friendship Society. His work has recently appeared in “Playful Type: Ephemeral Lettering & Illustrative Fonts” (Gestalten 2008), and in the National Buildings Museum in Washington, D.C.

A freelancer whose designs “fizzle and pop with color like candy bars for your eyes,” according to Press Publish, Harp will present a reel that reflects his broad range of interests and abilities in new media arts and technologies. "Typically used to get new gigs, my reel is a collage of personal and professional work organized in a way that displays my visual sensibilities," he explains.

For the exhibition, graphic designer and Brooklyn, N.Y. resident Peter Cameron Groves Harp will present a montage of designs he has created for various commercial clients. “In my work I strive to create solutions that are smart, simple and engaging,” he says. A graduate of the Ringling College of Art and Design in Florida, Harp (brother of MacGregor) majored in Graphic and Interactive Communication. There he studied motion graphics and new media, which led him into the motion graphics industry.

After college, Harp worked at Prologue Films, designing and animating for film titles, most notably “Bridge to Terabithia,” “The Invasion” and “The Reaping.” He has since done freelance design and animation for several motion graphics studios such as Lifelong Friendship Society, Imaginary Forces, Superfad and Buck.

Roxana Perez-Mendez, a native of Puerto Rico, is a multi-media artist and performer who focuses her work around the fragile issues of identity. She positions subjects in historical or contemporary contexts, using tropes and models to represent modernization and globalization.

“I create and insert fictions about Puerto Rican achievements and monuments into the world's meta-narrative,” she explains “For example, I transform a gallery into a space museum that traces my achievements as the first Puerto Rican in space.” Using humor, she seeks to educate and inform, as well as isolate, deconstruct and reflect on the “strains of difference” associated with Puerto Rican culture, class and geopolitical position. “The result of my work is a range of small, almost gestural forms, performances and monumental projects that hover in and document an everyday world where illusion and reality are confused,” she says. Ultimately, Perez-Mendez seeks to create a fictional experience for the viewer that “potentially forecasts the emergence of a new cultural, global politic that ends Puerto Rican exceptionalism.”

Perez-Mendez is a member of the collective Vox Populi Gallery and curator and chair of Video Lounge. She earned a BFA in sculpture and glass at The Ohio State University, an MFA from Tyler School of Art and also attended the Skowhegan School of Painting and Sculpture. Her work has been exhibited across the United States, Puerto Rico, Mexico, Spain and France.

Born in Seoul, Korea, Soo Sunny Park is a sculptor and installation artist. An assistant professor of Studio Art at Dartmouth College, she received her BFA in painting and sculpture from Columbus College of Art and Design and a MFA in sculpture from Cranbrook Academy of Art. After a residency in Skowhegan School of Painting and Sculpture, she worked in St. Louis as an installation artist and as a lecturer at Washington University.

The focus of Park's work has been an investigation in natural sciences and experimentation in large-scale sculpture and installation; her work is interactive and relates to the scale of the human body and, often, to specific sites.

"I have explored properties of geometry, concept of space, time and abstract mathematics with structure, pattern, and the dialogue between logical and lyrical shape. The process that I employ is both scientific and intuitive," Park explains. "My time is spent researching physical and idealized space, and how they create a liminal interstitial space," Park explains. "I am involved in re-utilization of manufactured products and the use of natural materials, which are affected by the laws and principles of physics."

The materials integral to Park's sculptural works include natural forces, such as light and air, and products such as glues, papers, plant materials, contact cement, polymers, balloons and vinyl. "My re-utilization of materials stems from a desire to confront the standard or conventional methodologies and create unexpected and incalculable results," she says. "...The ideas gained from the empirical approach to my work and impermanence of the physical objects allows continuous change in form but permanence in discovery."

To learn more about events at Colby-Sawyer College visit www.colby-sawyer.edu/events/index.html.

-Kimberly Swick Slover


Colby-Sawyer, founded in 1837, is a comprehensive liberal arts college located in the scenic Lake Sunapee Region of central New Hampshire. Students learn in small classes through a select array of programs that integrate the liberal arts and sciences with pre-professional experience.

Colby-Sawyer College, 541 Main Street, New London, N.H. 03257 (603) 526-3000