When Lucy Andrus, professor of art education and director of the art therapy minor, exhibited the work of 15 Buffalo State students in a rural New York library last fall, she had no idea their work would travel to the State Capitol.
The Art of Art Therapy, a collection of work in various media created by students from associate professor Kate Hartman’s Introduction to Art Therapy course, was on display from November to January 2016 at the Ahira Hall Memorial Library in Brocton, New York. Assemblyman Andy Goodell, who represents Chautauqua County, visited the library and the exhibit piqued his interest.
“He was so struck by the expressiveness of the works in this show that he asked if he could take it to Albany,” said Andrus. “Of course, we were thrilled. I love having new outlets for our students to exhibit their art.”
The Art of Art Therapy is now on display in the exhibit hallway of the Legislative Office Building with no end date.
This bit of serendipity is connected to the ongoing Literacy in the Arts, Reading and Culture (LARC) program Andrus introduced to the library prior to her 2012 sabbatical. As a way to increase awareness, appreciation, and involvement in arts and culture for members of an underserved rural community, she started offering lectures and hands-on workshops to young kids, teens, and adults alike.
She partnered her efforts with Ahira Hall library director Julie Morrison Putcher, who stepped into her role in 2010 with a plan to reinvigorate the library and connect more with the community. And what Andrus offered residents clearly struck a chord.
During one of her first projects, a Dia de los Muertos (Day of the Dead) display, with accompanying workshops in which participants could make calacas (skeletons) and calaveras (masks) to commemorate a departed loved one and help decorate a community ofrenda (altar), 157 people came.
Morrison Putcher explained that, in a town of fewer than 5,000 residents, this was an unprecedented turnout for a library event.
“People just loved it and asked for more,” she said.
Andrus followed that effort with a number of cultural and timely workshops and began exhibiting correlating art education students’ work. Since 2012, she and the library have put together 15 LARC workshops and exhibits.
“These activities have allowed the library to secure grant funding that is helping us to continue programming,” Andrus said.
She’s now expanded exhibits that include a current show, Exploring Portraiture, featuring four Buffalo State students and an alumna, and an upcoming exhibit of interior design student work that will travel from Upton Hall's Czurles-Nelson Galler, providing a rich cultural experience for the community and exposure for the students.
As evidenced by Goodell’s visit last fall, it’s an unknown who will see the exhibits or what their reactions will be.
“You throw a pebble in the pond and make ripples, but you don’t know how far out they will go,” Andrus said.
To learn more about the LARC program and the current Exploring Portraiture exhibit, call (716) 792-9418.
Pictured: (top) Portrait of woman by Margaret Wielopolski, ‘15; (middle) Blue bottle by Anonymous; (bottom) Portrait by Margaret Giamo ‘15
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