Students Explore McMullen Exhibits at Art After Dark

On Friday, the McMullen Museum returned with its fall Students Only Opening of Art After Dark, featuring artists in the fields of American landscape watercolor painting, New York street photography, and a litany of fun ’70s-themed activities for students to participate in.

The atmosphere was lively. Students flooded the exhibits, participating in activities and games, including Bob Ross Bingo, board games, lawn bowling, DIY macramé plant holders making, 3D landscape designing, movies on the terrace, and more. Students came in groups, shuffling in and out of rooms, talking among themselves and going through rooms at their leisure.

While students remained on the first floor, engaging in the activities or watching the performances by BC groups like Females Incorporating Sisterhood Through Step (F.I.S.T.S.), Black Experience in America Through Song (B.E.A.T.S.), The Acoustics, The Dynamics, The Common Tones, Music Guild, and Jammin’ Toast, many others checked out the four exhibits. 

Unlike last year, which primarily featured the work of artist Carrie Mae Weems, this year consisted of four separate exhibits: William Trost Richards: Hieroglyphs of Landscape, Simon Dinnerstein: The Fulbright Triptych, Alen MacWeeney and a Century of New York Photography, and Mary Armstrong: Conditions of Faith.

Hieroglyphs of Landscapes featured work from 19th-century artist Richards, as well as artists who have been inspired by his artistry or have inspired Richards themselves. The pieces ranged from beautiful depictions of waves crashing against the shore to visuals of nature untouched. In all the art presented, there was an inherent relationship between nature and humanity, primarily focused on the juxtaposition of humanity’s mortality and the constant beauty of nature. Richards was most well-known for his eloquent depictions of waves, which he felt captured the reality of mortality in the face of constant beauty.

Mary Armstrong’s Conditions of Faith, similar to Richards’ work, was focused on humanity as a whole and attempted to understand it through the lens of nature. Her imagery of seascapes and roiling currents worked to create, for her, “a perfect visual metaphor for change, both desired and feared, destructive and regenerative, personal and political.”

Another standout exhibit was Alen MacWeeney’s A Century of New York Photography, which displayed countless photos of New York life through the 20th century, ranging from the onset of the century all the way to its twilight stages. The photos captured snapshots of New Yorkers in their natural habitat, from riding the train to work to walking with their children, or simply going about their own business. The black-and-white photos captured the moods of the characters, ranging from introspection, to happiness, and even melancholy. 

Some shots featured nothing but the city, like one late night shot of a liquor store in the rain. You could see through the images how the city has changed: A few photos of the MTA trains from the ’70s were littered with graffiti so that you almost couldn’t see the silver of the train itself, which is a stark contrast to the pristine trains coursing through the city today.

The Fulbright Triptych featured engaging works of art from 20th-century painter Simon Dinnerstein, who hoped to capture the juxtaposition of our reality with a sort of imagined reality—a duality that shines through its imagery and even harkens back to art models from the Renaissance Era. 

All four exhibits worked in their own ways to understand certain aspects of life through either the bare reality of everyday life in cities or the lens of nature, discussing our reality as well as the reality we seek. They worked as time capsules of sorts, bringing the viewers back to bygone eras, hearkening back to simpler, often more beautiful times, while also attempting to make the viewer look inward and find some aspect of themselves through the art.

Featured Image by Maggie DiPatri / Heights Editor