Visiting Artist

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We are excited to announce a lecture by Sterling Downey and Melissa Proietti, co-founders and co-directors of the annual Under Pressure graffiti festivals and Fresh Paint Gallery in Montréal.


Under Pressure is an annual graffiti festival that focuses on community development, artist empowerment, as well as positive youth development through ownership and responsibility of a shared space. Having just completed its twentieth year, the festival is the longest running graffiti and hip hop festival in North America. It’s an event done by the community for the community, kept alive on a volunteer basis. The festival takes place over two days during the first full weekend in August, throughout which stages are given over to performers from across Canada. B-boy and b-girl battles take place on Sunday afternoon. A kids’ area lets little ones get creative, and a skate ramp is set up for competition and open jams.

Founded in 2011 by the Under Pressure Graffiti International Convention, Fresh Paint is an alternative project working on giving new life to empty spaces by turning them into temporary cultural spaces. Fresh Paint Gallery is a space for exhibitions, education, and events. Influenced by street art and graffiti movements, Fresh Paint shows collective exhibitions with a mix of local and international artists. The space presents the best of emerging artists in street art, graffiti, pop art, graphic design, and illustrations.

Fresh Paint offers an alternative to the institutionalized and commercialized cultural system for artists and the public. Forget white walls, posh openings, elitism and egos, their project is authentic, for the people and accessible. Their volunteer team works hard to develop the following:

– promoting urban culture values such as DIY, authenticity, sharing, mentoring, self-affirmation, creativity, work, and involvement
– demystifying visual art
– supporting new emerging generations of independent artists.

In coordination with the Brush Gallery and other programs on campus, SLU’s Global Studies department is holding a symposium on prison reform.

The symposium will include several events dedicated to raising awareness and facilitating conversation between North Country students, faculty, and community members on issues such as the prison industrial complex, solitary confinement, and prison reform efforts across the United States. Through these events, we hope to foster a dialogue about northern New York’s role in these larger processes, which are often missing from mainstream news coverage. 

The first event is a lecture by prison reform and social justice activist Five Omar Mualimm-ak at 7:00 p.m., in Griffiths 123.  Mualimm-ak’s drawings are featured as part of the Brush Gallery’s current exhibitions, which address  issues of incarceration in New York State and the nation.

The symposium’s events are sponsored by SLU Amnesty International, the African American Studies Department, SAGA (Sexuality and Gender Activists), the Weave, the Brush Gallery, and North Country Public Radio’s Prison Time project.

On Tuesday morning, the Alexander String Quartet visited the gallery and played while students from Karen Gibson’s FYP (Children’s Literature and Its Life-Long Lessons) engaged in a drawing assignment. The members of the ASQ seem to enjoy interacting with students — especially Sandy Wilson (cello) and Paul Yarbrough (viola), who added historical context to the music that the group played.  I forget the individual pieces that were played, but they began with Mozart and followed that with Ravel and then Britten.

On Friday morning, NCPR aired a story on the ASQ as part of its Live Music Friday series.

Last week, Drew Matott and Margaret Mahan from Peace Paper were on campus to conduct Panty Pulping workshops in papermaking and printmaking.  Drew and Margaret have been on campus before to for workshops and to make paper, but this was the first time that panties have been pulped on campus!

As they describe the project, “Panty Pulping workshops bring people together to share their strengths and joy through the transformation of their most intimate garments into paper. The concept of creating paper from clothing with personal significance reaches a new level as participants of all ages snip, beat, and reform their underwear together. When we pulp our underwear, we make a statement that violence will not be tolerated.  We stand together in solidarity for survivors, for the global advancement of women, and for creative revolutions.”

This week-long, multi-layered event brought awareness of sexual assault to a wide audience through active participation and hands-on learning. The content is social activism through the vehicle of art-making.

This morning, NCPR aired a story by Zach Hirsch which describes the Panty Pulping project:  Margaret and Drew interviewed by Zach Hirsch, NCPR.

And more photographs are available on the gallery’s flickr site.



On September 27th, a group of students from Ray Whalen’s art class at Parishville-Hopkinton Central School visited the gallery.  The Alexander String Quartet was in residence at SLU that week, and the students sketched as the quartet played works by Mozart, Shostakovich and Beethoven — not a lightweight program by any means!

Violist Paul Yarbrough spoke briefly between each of the three pieces, giving historical and social context for the music.  It was an amazing opportunity for students to hear a performance by world-class musicians in a small, informal setting.



Artist Daniel Heyman made the trip to Canton from Philadelphia, PA, earlier this week, visiting campus in conjunction with the Bearing Witness exhibition, which features his gouache paintings and prints (including a huge etching on multiple pieces of plywood).

While here, he gave a very moving artist’s lecture, met with students and members from the local community, and also taught Japanese wood block printing to Melissa Schulenberg’s beginning printmaking class. And he made a lithograph with Melissa, too! All this in just 2 1/2 action-packed days.

I really enjoyed getting to know Daniel — and his snappy sense of humor!


I purchased Paula Fenwick’s Ocean Nestbird from the ELEMENTALS Birds exhibition at SLU, though “purchase” isn’t really the right term here.  Of the nearly 40 artists who participated in the ELEMENTALS project, a good percentage of them decided to offer their work for sale in exchange for doing something to generate good will or feelings of positivity, such as donating a nice meal to a local charity.  That was the way the two exhibition organizers, Inga and Andy Hamilton, had set up the show—for artists’ works to generate good will and positivity.

Paula had indicated that her three birds were “US $56 each, or $32 if the buyer agrees to buy and give a total stranger a bunch of flowers, or $0 if buyer verbally agrees to a random act of kindness.”  So, I cogitated for a while.  I didn’t necessarily want to buy the artwork outright, because something about this show asked visitors to re-think their relationship to the world around them.  (Hmmm.  Crazy how art can do that, isn’t it?)

Therefore, as I continued to think it through, I wondered, at $32, how will I choose “the right” perfect stranger?  At $0, what qualifies as an act of kindness?

And then, my random act of kindness appeared right in front of me.  I didn’t have to go find it.  It found me.

Yesterday, I went to the local food mart to buy a few items.  In the checkout lane, a guy and his teen-aged daughter were going through the usual routine.  In this case, however, the guy’s debit card wasn’t working.  He tried four times and held it together pretty well.  (I’ve been in that situation before, and it stinks!)  He tried it again as a credit card with no luck.  He tried three times more putting a plastic bag around it, now running it up to eight times through, and nothing.  He rubbed it on his jacket.  I rubbed it on mine.  It wasn’t working.

Well, you can guess what happened next.  I paid for his groceries.  I told him and his daughter about the art exhibition and that I was trying to figure out what to do to perform a random act of kindness.  I don’t think they really cared about the whole back story, which is fine.  Maybe this debit card thing had happened before.  All I know is when I said I would cover the bill, the two of them just melted with relief.  It was pretty sweet.

The other part of it is that I used to go food shopping with my dad after my mom left our family when I was 14.  He and I (and my two sisters) were sort of on the edge, I think, trying to make sense of how to proceed without her.  I remember making a shopping list every week: ham with pineapple slices, cheez-pixies, orange soda, bread and sliced meat for lunches, etc….

Anyway, yesterday, according to the grocery receipt, the guy and his daughter bought a BC CAKE ($1.19), 80% GROUND B ($10.97), JMBO BNLS CH ($8.96), TOP RND LOND ($7.48), and two BCN WRPD BF FILETs ($2.00 each).  It came to around $32.00.

I hope Paula, Inga, and Andy will be happy to hear this story.

The transformative power of art!

Please join us on Thursday evening for a gallery discussion with visiting artists Inga and Andy  Hamilton.

More information about and photographs of  the ELEMENTALS Birds project can be found on the ELEMENTALS at SLU FB page.

“ELEMENTALS Birds” is a very special experiment to see if artists, printmakers, and craftspeople can physically embody feelings of peace, harmony, and goodwill in their artwork and tangibly affect the environment in which it is shown.  By definition, elementals traditionally are thoughts that once created become attached to their creator and are fed by further thoughts and actions.  They’re often referred to as an air of positivity or negativity; confidence or lack thereof; peace or disharmony.

Inga and Andy Hamilton will be on campus for three weeks to create site-specific installations at the gallery that unfold over time and flow with good intention to all those who encounter their work.  The artists also invite students, faculty, staff, and community members to create their own elemental birds to be placed around campus and town.

Come see what happens when artists (and you!) are given permission to explore new avenues in unexpected and magical ways.  You can chat with the all of the participating artists on Facebook and see pix of their work by searching for Elementals Birds.

Artists’ Bios
Installation artist Inga Hamilton works in the Venn diagram intersection where craft, art, science, mathematics, and activism meet.  Her textiles are currently showing in Dubh, dialogues in black, at the American Irish Historical Society in New York City, a showcase of leading artists and craftspeople from Ireland and the United States.

You’re just as likely to find the work of printmaker, digital illustrator, and urban artist Andy Hamilton (a.k.a. MyTarPit) hanging in the likes of Nintendo’s head office, slid amongst the volumes in a bookstore, or pinned to the back of a stop sign.  His obsession with mark-making and character design spurs him on to develop groundbreaking print techniques with an old-school twist.

Known equally for their guerrilla art activities and gallery installations, Inga and Andy have presented their work throughout the United States and Europe in exhibitions, public art projects, live paints, workshops, and residencies.

Please join us!  Inga and Andy have created templates so that everyone can contribute to the project.

fat bottomed owl elemental 01
fat bottomed owl elemental 02

joe crow elemental 1
joe crow elemental 2

squirch elemental 1

yaffle elemental 1
yaffle elemental 2
yaffle elemental 3


Artist's Talk

In conjunction with the Re-framing Terrorism exhibition, artist Wafaa Bilal will give a lecture in Griffiths 123 on Thursday, October 6, at 7:00 p.m.

More information about Bilal can be found at

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