Fiat Spectacular Talent

Our Alfred University students are a talented group, with many opportunities to showcase their accomplishments—concerts, plays, the Undergraduate Research Forum, athletic events, and, of course, the annual Senior Art Shows. The work on display for the Senior Art Shows this past Saturday was nothing short of spectacular. Regardless of the media they used, our students excelled.

One jaw-dropping exhibition contained works by Emma Hildebrandt ’19, whose large-scale visual works vibrate with color. It is easy to see why Emma recently was selected as a recipient of the Thayer Fellowship, the most prestigious award given by the State University of New York. Emma was one of only three students from across New York State to receive the Fellowship; the three will share the $8,000 prize.

The Thayer Fellowship is awarded each year to an “outstanding candidate for graduation…selected for talent, achievement, and potential as a professional artist. It is meant to serve as a bridge between study at SUNY and first‑time entry into a professional career in the creative or performing arts: namely music, theater, dance, film and video, creative writing, and the visual arts.”

Stephanie McMahon ’98, a professor of painting in our School of Art and Design, nominated Emma for the award. “Emma is one of the most exceptional students I have ever worked with in our program. She is a natural leader, strongly motivated, community oriented, and deeply committed to her studio practice,” Stephanie wrote in Emma’s nomination. “I have no doubt that she will pursue art throughout her life. Her engagement inside and outside of the studio speaks to her commitment to move forward in the arts upon graduation.”

Emma Hildebrandt ’19 with Mark Zupan at the 2019 Senior Art Shows

Emma Hildebrandt ’19 with yours truly at Saturday’s Senior Art Shows

Equally beautiful are the ceramic pots created by Emily Rarity ’19.

With her permission, I share a bit of her story: “I enjoy pots that you can interact with daily and pots that are meant to be enjoyed during school gatherings,” she said in her artist’s statement. “I think of my pots as having a job.”

Emily has Crohn’s, an auto-immune disease that causes inflammation in the large intestine. To her, Emily said, food hurts rather than nourishes, so she keeps “safe” food near her at all times, to “ease my hunger or intestinal anxiety….I believe my pots have a job to do to hold food that comforts you.”

Because of her ongoing medical needs, Emily began her job search over winter break, looking for opportunities near her hometown of Falls Church, Virginia. She found Fortessa Tableware Solutions in Ashburn, Virginia, and further research led Emily to a subsidiary of Fortessa, called Cloud Terre Studios, which has a line of tableware but also produces made-to-order custom pieces.

Emily wrote an email to the executive architect/artisan, and the next day had a phone interview. “I started to tell them about my extensive ceramic experiences and about Alfred University. They cut me off and said they knew all about Alfred University.”

Emily was offered the job. She begins work after graduation as a production potter for Cloud Terre Studios. Graduating from “Alfred’s rigorous ceramics program” allowed me to “land the position so quickly….I am very thankful that I am a ceramics major at Alfred University,” Emily said.

We are very thankful for and proud of Emily and Emma and the dozens of other seniors who participated in this year’s Senior Art Shows.

For those of you who may have missed this year’s opening on Saturday, we are having a reception this Thursday, May 16, from 5:30-7 p.m. in the Harder Hall lobby. Please join us if you can and check out the Shows in Harder as well as the other venues where our students’ work can be found (among other places, the Shows in the Cohen Studio are a must-see). It’s your last opportunity to enjoy the talents of this year’s seniors.

Fiat Spectacular Talent!

P.S. If you do attend Thursday’s reception, you might want to bring some cash, a checkbook, or a Zelle/Venmo account with you. Sales of the students’ artwork were brisk on Saturday and the proceeds go to a good cause!