(c) Laura Mosquera

ART + WORK Exhibit Showcases Art by SOA Staff and Faculty

April 16, 2018

Currently running at Columbia University’s LeRoy Neiman Gallery, ART + WORK is a group exhibition featuring the work of faculty members and staff from across the various disciplines at Columbia University's School of the Arts.


The show includes Visual Arts Adjunct Assistant Professors Nathan CatlinPeter CloughDana LokKai McBridePatrice Renee Washington, and Craig Zammiello, and Film Adjunct Assistant Professors Michael Cacioppo Belantara and Adam Marchand.


The exhibit also features work by School of the Arts staff members Jeffrey James Keyes '10 (Theatre), Assistant Director of Student Affairs; Alex Tapnio, Associate Director and Program Administration of Arts Initiative; Carrie Gundersdorf, Director of Academic Administration; Rachael Guma, Equipment Manager; Frank Heath, Safety Manager; Sara Mason, Director of Academic Administration; and Laura Mosquera, HR Manager.


Video installation, prints, drawings, photography, sculpture, and mixed media are just a few of the works that can be found in the show. We spoke with Jeffrey James Keyes and Michael Cacioppo Belantara to learn more about their artwork, process, and how working at the School of the Arts impacts their artistic lives.



What themes, questions, or subjects did you have in mind while creating your piece?


Jeffrey James Keyes: I spent a good decade moonlighting as a nightlife photographer and with this series I'm showing a glimpse of drag photography, with a focus on performers from the hit television series RuPaul's Drag Race. I did some promotional work with Absolut Vodka, taking marketing pictures for their brand in action at a variety of events and parties and always ended up backstage or at the sidelines of performances at the end of the night. In contrast from the set up or promotional images I would be hired to take, I always strive for my work to reveal the spirit of the moment.


Michael Cacioppo Belantara: [ART + WORK includes] selections from a project I'm doing called CollectionsCollection 01, Singles, is an ongoing collection of abandoned items that are normally found in pairs, and Collection 02, Remains, is an ongoing collection of the remains of devices that consist of a circular canopy of cloth or other material on a folding metal frame supported by a central rod, used as protection against rain or sometimes sun.


Every collection has a "membership rule" which, upon discovering a suitable addition for the collection, I'm allowed one chance to capture it.


I find myself fascinated and flabbergasted by the remnants of our 'throwaway' and often 'one-use' culture. When I encounter these objects they often appear in a dramatic fashion—I'm inspired by happenstance.

What works of art (films, books, music) inspire you as an artist?


JJK: I come from an extremely creative family and a long line of writers and artists. One of my relatives, Glenway Wescott was a writer in Gertrude Stein's circle in the "Lost Generation" in Paris, so I've always had an affinity for that specific circle of writers and artists. F. Scott Fitzgerald and Ernest Hemingway have always been my favorites, and re-reading Lorca makes me want to always do better. In thinking about photographers Diane Arbus, George Platt Lynes, Nan Goldin and Lois Conner were an all inspiring to me early on, but I learned a lot from working with Stephan Apicella-Hitchcock and Anthony Lepore when I was a student at Fordham University College at Lincoln Center.


MCB: I'm a big fan of fantasy and science fiction. I tend to find inspiration in everything...Even the things I don't like!



How do you find the time to create your own art, in addition to working at Columbia?


JJK: ​I'm actually most creative in the evening. I went to a psychic in New Orleans about a decade ago and she told me I can do whatever I want during the day and it's not going to interrupt my work as an artist. I think there's a lot of truth in this. I co-authored a New York Times bestselling novel when I was working as the Program Assistant in the MFA Theatre Program a few years back. I'd finish my work day at 5pm, have a little dinner and write from 6-9pm in Butler or the C.V. Starr East Asian library every night after work one semester. You have to acknowledge when you're most creative and focus: set up your day so you're able to create then. Make clear goals and accomplish them. I spent some time working as a television producer between completing my MFA in Playwriting and coming back to work here at the School of the Arts. I loved being on set and collaborating on creating segments for television but being on set late into the evening infringed on my own creative time. Working back at Columbia is a much better fit.


MCB: Great question! The staff shows at Columbia definitely force me to meet deadlines, which helps. I'm always tinkering with projects, and I want to make sure that I provide an example to my daughters that shows the importance and value of creativity in the world.



Does working at the School of the Arts have an influence on your creative life?


JJK: It's beyond inspiring. I have always had a deep respect and appreciation for Columbia University and the School of the Arts. The students here are phenomenal and have worked so hard to give themselves the gift of taking time from their professional lives to focus on their practice and craft. It's an incredible community of individuals. I'm continually running into former professors of mine and even my own classmates who all inspire me to keep at it. Additionally, the staff is unbelievably kind and encouraging. We all work together so well and are quite aware of the broad range of talents and skills each of us bring to the table.


MCB: Absolutely! Being surrounded by some of the most talented creative students in the world can sure rub off on a person!



The exhibit runs through April 20th, 2018.

March 23 - April 20

ART + WORK: Staff Exhibition 2018 | Spring 2018

Leroy Neiman Gallery
310 Dodge Hall
2960 Broadway
New York, NY 10027 9:00 AM

Opening reception: Friday, March 23, 5 pm An exhibition of work produced by the talented and dynamic staff of Columbia University School of the Arts. Featuring: Michael Cacioppo Belantara, Nathan Catlin, Peter Clough, Rachael Guma, Carrie Gundersdorf, Frank Heath, Jeffrey James Keyes, Dana Lok, Adam Marchand, Sara Mason, Kai McBride, Laura Mosquera, Alex Tapni, Patrice Renee Washington, Craig Zammiello

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