Recent visitors to the Granoff Center for the Creative Arts may have noticed a broad variety of new artwork in the Atrium Gallery. While visual arts displays are certainly not uncommon in the building, the “After Hours'' exhibition is unique: all pieces on display were created by University staff.
The exhibit, which opened on Jan. 24, has been an annual event for more than a decade, according to Sophia LaCava-Bohanan, associate director for partnerships and engagement at Brown Arts Institute and the organizer of “After Hours” this year.
“The broad intention is to honor and value the work and artistic practices of as many staff members as we can,” LaCava-Bohanan said. “The opportunity to showcase these works is really magical.”
This year, the display includes work from 49 artists, all of whom are staff members working within various departments across the University.
‘Contrast and beauty’: Geoff Williams’s ‘November Light in Look Park’
As the manager of the Leduc Bioimaging Facility, Geoff Williams’s work falls at a unique intersection between art and science. Both fields, he says, are integral parts of his life.
“I discovered as an undergrad that there was a photographic component to science, and that led me down the path of electron microscopes,” he said, adding that his work, although housed in the Department of Molecular Biology, Cell Biology and Biochemistry, is a creative outlet.
While Williams has been a longtime contributor to this exhibition, participating for over a decade, this is the first year that he has not submitted an image from a scanning electron microscope. Instead, he opted for a digital monochrome photograph.
“The image I submitted this year is a bit different, but it still hits all the contrast functions and features that I usually have from the (scanning electron microscope),” he said. He added that shooting an image in monochrome, whether with a camera or a microscope, means paying special attention to light.
Williams partially credits the bioimaging class that he teaches, BIOL 1040: “Ultrastructure/Bioimaging,” with having inspired his return to more conventional photography last spring. Students in BIOL 1040 are required to submit a black-and-white photo every week with the purpose of practicing the same aesthetic techniques necessary for microscopic imaging. Creating this assignment for his students ultimately led Williams to pick up a 35-millimeter film camera again.
“November Light in Look Park,” his art piece, captures what Williams described as a “fleeting moment” of calm within chaos during a cyclo-cross race in Northampton, Massachusetts.
“Just to the right of the frame is the racecourse, and to the left of the frame are rows of (parked) cars and people getting ready to race,” he said. “The contrast and beauty in this little section of the park at this giant event, it really stopped me for a minute.”
Williams says he hopes that this year’s piece will give viewers a new appreciation for monochrome imagery, reminding them that “even in black and white, there’s an endless amount of beauty around us.”
‘A landscape of time’: Luis Gonzalez III’s ‘The Time Keeper’
Luis Gonzalez III, assistant operations manager at the Brown Bookstore, has been making art for as long as he can remember. His love for painting, though, is a more recent development.
“I’ve been drawing my entire life,” he said, “and then probably 15 or 16 years ago I was like, ‘let me see if I can put some color behind this.’”
Since then, painting has become Gonzalez’s favorite medium to work with. “It felt good to add some color to my life, to my artwork, to my walls and then eventually to my friends’ lives,” he said, adding that he often gives his paintings away as gifts.
This year, with his piece “The Time Keeper,” Gonzalez sought to illustrate a “landscape of time” filled with memories from his childhood as well as a scenic mountain view inspired by his love of nature and the natural world.
“It’s kind of a scenery of my artwork over time, and how it’s changed and developed,” he said. “The many layers highlight moments in my upbringing.”
The piece is painted over a page of newsprint that Gonzalez collected during a trip to Mexico City with his wife. He explained that he had chosen to paint on this page in particular because the large wristwatch and photo of Cantinflas, a Mexican comedian and actor, both caught his eye.
“My father was always telling me about Cantinflas. I grew up watching him,” he said. “If you look at the painting, you can kind of see him in one of the little open spaces in the sky.”
Gonzalez added that the title of the piece refers to the power of time, which “can foster so much change in our lives (and) can shape us in so many ways,” he said. “Being able to look back and create something from all the stories and experiences gives me so much to look forward to.”
‘Tiny moments’: Stéphanie Larrieux’s ‘Harvest’
As the associate director at the Center for the Study of Race and Ethnicity in America, much of Stéphanie Larrieux’s PhD’08 experiences in the arts have been showcased in her scholarly work.
Larrieux studies representations of race in science fiction films and what she calls “Hollywood’s representations of the future.”
But what her students may not know is that her lifelong history with art has extended across a variety of mediums. She loves making pottery and painting, and has been submitting her photography to “After Hours” for six years.
Larrieux told The Herald that she tries to temper the “harshness” of the world in her yearly submissions, instead showcasing the breadth of wonder and beauty around her.
“I try (to) capture these tiny moments that might be otherwise overlooked,” she added. “I think there can be something really soul-nurturing or heartwarming about them.”
Her latest piece “Harvest” seeks to display this simplistic beauty. “Your eyes are drawn through the lines up the fence to the pumpkins on them, and then the corn stalks in the grasses are aligned as well, which kind of brings you to an apex to notice the tractor,” she said. “And there’s a bunch of little pumpkins that you might not have noticed initially there as well.”
Larrieux hopes her piece will inspire viewers to “look a little more closely at our lives and our experiences” and notice the beauty in small moments.
“I could have passed something a gazillion times on my morning commute or on my walk across campus and never noticed it before,” she said. “You can experience ‘experiencing’ in a different way every day, and I think that’s really such an enriching part of just being alive.”
The “After Hours” exhibition is open for students and staff free of charge until Feb. 15.
“The staff exhibition is an opportunity for us to all remember that while so much of our lives take place on campus and in a university environment, we’re also humans in the world,” LaCava-Bohanan said. “I really hope it brings people a new understanding of some of the staff that we interact with day in and day out.”
Campbell Loi, a senior staff writer and copy editor for The Herald, is a junior from Syracuse, NY studying Public Health and International and Public Affairs. Outside of academics, she loves all things music and enjoys performing, arranging, and constantly listening to songs in her free time.