Student art showcased

The second annual ?Untitled? art sale was part of Carnegie Mellon?s annual Spring Carnival this Saturday. It featured almost 50 students and alumni showing a range of artwork, crafts, music, photography, and ceramics. This year was notable for its strong outreach to attract people outside of Carnegie Mellon to the event and the strong presence of young alumni and current undergraduates.

With the experience of the first ?Untitled? art sale from 2004, the coordinators were anxious to try something new and tackle some of the problems that arose with the previous sale. Niloo Sobhani, the housefellow of Mudge House and one of last year's organizers, recruited an all-volunteer committee of students including Laura Fry, Rachel Stutzman, Alicia Colwell II, Alejo Grigera, Samuel Abel Espada, Staci Steinberger, Douglas Gordon Peters, Dameta Skinner, Sarah Crosskey, Emili Whittaker, Gary Tsai, and Bum Lee. Their innovations included more appropriate music, more student artists, and better coordination that made the show a continued success. Even seemingly mundane details, such as a new design for corkboards by David Rice, benefitted the artists and the organizers.

New participants were attracted to the event for a variety of reasons. Geoffrey Di Beneditto, a fourth-year architecture student, admitted, ?I kept complaining about not having money,? but he was referred to the art sale by a friend. This was the first time Di Beneditto, a hobbyist photographer, sold his work to anyone other than friends or family. Matthew Iannacci was also new to selling his photographs but had admirable success, selling two prints before the show even opened. Iannacci said, ?A few prints may even end up in the dorms,? as he was approached by representatives of campus housing.

Grigera, one of the members of the student organizing committee, was showing his meticulously altered prints, using manipulated photographs to create startlingly vibrant images. He echoed the aspirations of the other coordinators, expressing enthusiasm for next year?s event already, projecting a change from the feel of an art show to an art sale.

Among those selling fiber arts, Andrea Wagner was selling a range of clothing and accessories including small knitted rose flowers that were in high demand for their price. Explaining her reasonable prices, Wagner explained, ?I am trying to sell this stuff to college students and they?re just as broke as I am.? Courtney Chou was another alumna participating in the student art sale for her second year, selling clothing made from elegantly refashioned cotton T-shirts. Elina Malkin, who sold macrame jewelry, had impressive work, knotted with complex whorls and loops around small pieces of colored glass and light slices of wood.

A 2004 alumna of the Masters of Fine Arts program, Fereshteh Toosi, had more unusual fiber arts for sale, including beautiful quilts made primarily from brightly colored plastic zip ties and a large fabric frog-head hat.

Many participants in the art sale gained more experience than money. Joana Ricou, a Science and Arts fifth-year, commented that she was receiving ?lots of compliments but no sales yet,? and she appreciated the suggestions from other artists and attendees on the presentation of her work. Generally, everyone appreciated the opportunity to sell their work, even if attendance was slow.

Several alumni and veterans of the previous sale?Noel Hefele, Adam Grossi, and Robin Hewlett?were also featured in a group exhibition in the University Center art gallery. Hefele participated in the art sale in 2004 and was happy with the changes made this year. Hefele explained, ?I think I broke my record? in sales, and he recognized ?lots of community members? in attendance. His work ranged from small drawings rendered in colored pencil to large oil-pastel portraits. Adam Grossi was also a fan of the art sale, explaining, ?People coming to this space with an interest in buying is pretty unusual.? Both Grossi and
Hefele have exhibited at Modern Formations and other galleries in Pittsburgh.
The one older alumnus participating was Burton Morris, an internationally acclaimed artist who has gained notable recognition for his illustration work for the Oscars, donating signed posters to be raffled off at the conclusion of the art sale.

The music was a pleasure, filling the UC Gymnasium with a series of light acoustic sets, including a jazz trio and several different soloists for piano and guitar. Anna Vogelzang both performed on stage playing guitar and sold CDs of her own music as a participant in the sale.

Thanks to the leadership and energy of committee members, particularly Laura Fry, Sobhani hopes for the art sale to become a primarily student-run event.? ?As we grow,? Sobhani said, ?we will attract the collector community and the gallery community"; and so far many of the participants ?had a good experience last year, so they came back.? Sobhani sees a goal for the event, ?where the art sale is a big event in the cultural landscape of Pittsburgh.?