Perhaps you have seen a giant pink splotch of paint on the wall outside of the Student Union. At first, you may have wondered why someone would desecrate such a perfectly good wall, but if you take a moment to examine said splotch, you might be struck by its vibrancy and depth. There are splashes of purple and silver which, in addition to its abstract shape, give the entire thing a funky, yet sophisticated vibe. What you are looking at is the artwork of Teto Elsiddique. His technique is a modern abstract spinoff of printmaking (which is the focus of the current Weeks Gallery exhibit). When Teto first came to Jamestown Community College and printed on the wall of the Gallery, I got an excited e-mail from the gallery director, Dr. Patricia Briggs. Never one to miss out on art, I was able to rush over in time to see Teto at work.
The common conception of an artist at work brings to mind easels, giant paint palettes, and wondrously emotional plant life. Thankfully, however, that’s not the only way to make art. Teto’s work begins in his home. He purchases some spray paint, a tarp, and some duct tape, all for probably less than $20.00, and he has everything he needs. He describes the process casually, as if every recent grad tags tarps in his or her bedroom. With the tarp spread out, Teto layers different colors of spray paint until he has the final pattern. He then covers his work with a sheet of plastic, duct tapes the whole thing closed, and throws it into a Wal-Mart bag. With the help of our gallery crew, Teto applied his masterpiece to the wall by pressing the paint onto a white base, waiting for it to dry, and then slowly peeling back the plastic to leave the print on the wall. The finished product looks like this:
Interesting fact: The “ridges” that you see are outlines of the mattress that the tarp was painted on. It gives the entire work a rippling effect, compounded by the streaks of silver and purple.
What’s the point of it all, you ask? If you ask Dr. Briggs, it’s simple. The aim here is to have a conversation. You do not need to have any deep understanding or ground shaking philosophical revelations to enjoy art. Instead, you can look at it squarely, turn to your friend (because who goes to an art gallery alone), and ask, “How the heck did they do that?” You don’t even have to wear a beret, or know that Goya is so much more than a brand of Hispanic foods. If you have some time, I would encourage all of our students (and JCC faculty and staff of course) to take a trip to the Weeks Gallery and hazard a look around. If you’re lucky, Dr. Briggs will be there to explain the truly incredible process of printmaking, both traditional and alternative.
To end on a happy note, Teto recently applied to the Yale arts program, and after reviewing his work, Yale is bringing him in for an interview. His art will be on display at JCC for just a little while longer, until the student art exhibition begins. Sadly, his work will be painted over to accommodate our next show, but there is some good news with that: the art that replaces it could be one of YOUR pieces. So if you think you have a knack for the artistic, check out the show and submit your work. Who knows? You might just wind up at Yale.