Sordoni Art Gallery reopened with “Drawn to Abstraction” exhibit; ready for socially distanced visitors

The Sordoni Art Gallery has reopened on campus, providing students with an escape from classes and everyday stressors. “Drawn to Abstraction,” the featured exhibition, showcases prints from the 1960s and 70s, capturing the vibrancy of emerging abstract movements of the time period. 

Works displayed in the “Drawn to Abstraction” exhibition originate from a time of boundary testing and social critique in America. In response, artists from the time period challenged accepted techniques and subject matter, in addition to examining the role of art in society. 

Abstract expressionism, minimalism and op and pop art can be found amongst the works in the Sordoni Gallery, including widely recognized artists of the twentieth century, such as Josef Albers, Helen Frankenthaler and Claes Oldenburg. 

“The exhibit was supposed to open this past spring, so it’s been self-quarantining as well,” said Karley Stasko, outreach coordinator for the Sordoni. 

Pieces from “Drawn to Abstraction” traveled from the Kalamazoo Institute of the Arts, located in Kalamazoo, Mich. In addition, local artists and businesses have donated their work to be displayed in the gallery. 

“We were able to get art from local donors — we have pieces donated by local artists. Axelrad also makes a ton of our shirts, so we thought it would be cool to feature them, so they actually donated one of their silk screens,” said Stasko.

While the gallery is now open to students and the public, some things have changed since being open on campus this past spring. In addition to masks and social distancing, the interactivity of the gallery is something that has been modified in recent months due to the pandemic. 

“Normally, we would have things people could touch and move, but since we want to stay away from that, we’ve had to adapt a bit,” Stasko explained. 

Creatively, the Sordoni Art Gallery has adapted one of the prints from the “Drawn to Abstraction” exhibition, by turning Fenice, by Piero Dorazio, an Italian artist, into an interactive piece using light, where guests are able to take pictures and selfies. 

In addition to the re-opening of the gallery, an online event via Zoom celebrating display of the exhibition will be held at 6 p.m., Sept. 10, featuring a lecture by Rehema Barber, chief curator at Kalamazoo Institute of the Arts. 

Barber will discuss the exhibition, as well as other works in Kalamazoo Institute of the Arts’  collection. Additionally, Barber will take audience questions and feedback. Local talent will be showcased, putting a twist on the event and making it more than the traditional lecture. 

Registration is required by Sept. 7 for the event. Those interested in attending can email Karley Stasko, [email protected], to secure their place, as well as join an email list for other online events through the exhibition, such as as a 60s and 70s themed mask-making event that will be held via Zoom in the coming days. 

The Sordoni Art Gallery is housed in the Karambelas Media and Communication Center, and is open from 10 a.m to 5 p.m. Tuesdays through Fridays and from 12 p.m. to 5 p.m. on Saturdays. 

Unlike previous semesters, the gallery is now closed on Sundays for cleaning due to the coronavirus pandemic. Masks and social distancing are required for all visitors. 

“The space really lends itself to social distancing,” said Stasko, when speaking of the safety protocols put in place now that the gallery has re-opened. “You’d really have to try (in order) to not be socially distant.” 

“Drawn to Abstraction” will be displayed until Nov. 1. Admission is free for both students and the public, promoting the gallery’s mission of encouraging an appreciation of the arts and an understanding of its role in society through direct engagement.