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Cummings showcases ‘Photography of NPAA’

Samuel Peterson, Contributing writer

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The Cummings Art Gallery hosted a reception for the NPAA (Northwest Pennsylvania Artist Association) on Sept. 27 in honor of its latest exhibit, “Photography of NPAA.” The exhibit opened on Sept. 24 and will be on display at Mercyhurst until Oct. 27.

“Photography of the NPAA” includes work by local artists Carol Posch Comstock, Abigail Adams Greenway, Dorothy Kloss, Nathan Sulecki, Michael Tkach and Greg Zbach. All of their work is unique and uses a wide range of methods.

The NPAA is a group made up of Erie artists, art dealers, gallery directors and art critics. With such a diverse group of local artists, it only makes sense that their pieces are so unique, imaginative and creative.

The inspiration for this exhibit is to look at the different processes photographers use to create unique effects. Some mediums utilized in “Photography of NPAA” include traditional silver prints, digital media, phone images, collages and studio set-ups.

The display was curated by Cardot, Mercyhurst assistant professor of Art and program director of Studio Art and Photography Minor. He also is a featured artist.

Cardot explored highly conceptual themes as he pulled inspiration from several local photographers. He photographed various gardens and public parks in infrared colors and stated that his “Spiritual Cultural Landscapes” reflected American culture.

Cardot’s other pieces include a beautiful rendition of a landscape outside the Cleveland Art Museum which draws the eye to the cool colors portrayed in the image. Black, blue and white saturate the frame, and leave the viewer to consider the colors in relation to our cultural landscape.

Sulecki offers an introspective look at what he described as “The Seven Deadly Sins” in his work, “Spasmodic Cantos.” A canto is a form of division in medieval and modern poetry, which could be interpreted that Sulecki’s photos are an incomplete or open story or merely flow to the next piece.

Sulecki’s surreal themes are represented by moody lighting and ridiculous amounts of food. For example, one portrait was done with copious amounts of watermelons and another utilized over 70 pounds of spaghetti.

Sulecki stated he was influenced by John Milton’s “Paradise Lost” and various Mark Twain poems. Inspirationally, Sulecki used primarily natural lighting and minimal editing implying that prospective artists with a vision may create display worthy work.

Tkach portrayed his nude models in strange positions, but always featured an electrical outlet in his pieces. Outlets are the overarching theme in his strong black and white portraits that leave an impression on the viewer. It lets the audience consider what the picture itself is an “outlet” for.

There were many more photos on display at the gallery, including meditative looks at everyday objects by Kloss, spiritual collages done by Posch Comstock, abstract color designs by Zbach and dreamlike collages done by Adams Greenway. All artists provided striking pieces.

The opening reception was an excellent opportunity for Mercyhurst students and the Erie community to meet the photographers whose work is currently on display in the gallery.

The NPAA is dedicated to protecting local artists and uplifting student creators. They have been a force for Erie arts since the 1970s with their current leadership striving to continue the important work they do for the community. Kris Risto is its current president, and board members include Amanda Ferguson, John Vahanian, Bryan Toy, Barbara Crone, Barbara Yerace and Jack Stone.

The NPAA has several scholarship programs for high school seniors interested in the arts. This year they were won by Grace Brown of Villa Maria Academy, Quincey Baloga of Mercyhurst Prep and Olivia English of Crawford County Career Technical Center.

Beyond aiding young artists, the NPAA protects, promotes and provides to established members of the group as they have since 1974.

Those interested can visit “Photography of NPAA” Monday through Friday 11 a.m. to 5 p.m. and Saturdays from noon to 3 p.m. The gallery is located in the lobby of the Mary D’Angelo Performing Arts Center.
For more information, contact gallery director Jessica Stadtmueller at jstadtmueller@mercyhurst.edu.

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Cummings showcases ‘Photography of NPAA’