Alumni produce ‘Divergent Acts’

The collaboration of eight SSU sculpture alumni has resulted in an art exhibit that mimics a high school reunion. This reunion, however, is held to display the artistic growth of the former students of professor Jan Nunn. 

“Divergent Acts: Current Work by SSU Sculpture Alumni” was personally curated by Nunn, professor of sculpture at Sonoma State University. The exhibit, open since April 1, features the creative works of numerous SSU alumni as well as one current art student. Six different pieces were displayed in the library art gallery, some much larger than others. 

One that stood out not only for its size but also for its description was Annalisa Vobis’ “Radiolarian Ooze.” This piece, constructed primarily of plastic, was hung by fishing line to give it a floating effect. A recurring theme of environmental awareness was depicted in many of the sculptures, and Vobis’ piece was no exception. 

In her artist’s statement, Vobis said that her fascination of the interaction of organisms within ecosystems and their destructive impacts is often the inspiration of her work. The transformation of dead marine planktonic protozoan into sedimentary rock was depicted in white plastic material in “Radiolarian Ooze.” While the motivation behind the piece was a reference to destructive impacts on the environment, the sculpture itself was constructed beautifully. 

Artists Nicholas Harris and Ben Lastufska produced a figure that also portrayed the balance of organisms and their environment, but their final piece was much louder than Vobis’. “The Dysphoria of Virtue and Vice” incorporated materials such as fiberglass and yogurt to construct a mold of a human figure represents the fragility of our environment. The addition of a wooden beam violently stuck in the middle of the figure’s head further adds to the awareness of the consequences we face when our environment is tampered with. Ben Lastufska graduated SSU in 2010 with Bachelor of Fine Arts degree in painting. Despite his painting emphasis, Lastufska has a deep interest in sculpting. 

“With painting, it’s two dimensional. It’s on a wall. You can make it three-dimensional, you can do almost anything you want, but it’s still going to be on a wall somewhere,” said Lastufska. “With sculpture, you can literally do anything you want as long as you have the resources.”

Christopher Collette is another artist who is intrigued with the ability to manipulate three-dimensional materials to send a message. Collette produced a piece for the exhibit entitled “Portraits of the Male Figure Series” that featured four separate bronze sculptures accompanied by a monitor mounted on a wall. The monitor displayed a series of black and white photos of the artist’s feet moving to and from each other. 

The space and shapes the human body creates intrigues Collette, and two of the bronze pieces were designed directly after the shapes created when his feet met together. 

“I’ve always been interested in how things connect or attach, and not necessarily the objects themselves,” said Collette. 

Displayed on the back wall of the gallery was a sizeable paper piece designed by artist Missy Engelhardt. In distinctive Englehardt styling, a large orange sheet of paper was cut and folded to create a unique pattern. The use of a basic material such as paper was purposeful so the artist could display her ability explore the physical properties of objects and enhance them. 

The sculpture, entitled “Orange Swirl,” served as a nice compliment along side Catherine Daley’s “Aurora II,” a pretty sculpture constructed of Plexiglas and aluminum. 

Daley’s piece also paid tribute to nature and was inspired by the interaction of highly charged electrons from solar winds and the elements in earth’s atmosphere that create the aurora borealis. 

One sculpture, whose design was not based on the materials used, but rather the message displayed, was Andrew Sofie’s “Other People’s Conversations.” Sofie’s piece was unique in that the only three-dimensional element used was a monitor mounted on a wall. A text conversation between two people who were said to have just met appeared to be fed live to the monitor. Sofie said he had been working on this project for a few years and he knew immediately he wanted to showcase it at “Divergent Acts” after he was invited to participate.

A gallery filled with numerous styles of sculpture art was curated nicely by Nunn and “Divergent Acts” proved to be a great way for SSU alumni to come together and showcase their artistic development.

The exhibit will run until July 12 and is free to the public.