The Student Connection

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SUNY Empire State College Hosts Exhibit of Sculpture by Sonja Allen

By Dareth McKenna

March 2, 2011

Artwork by Sonja Allen The work of Maine sculptor Sonja Allen is being featured at a show hosted by SUNY Empire State College in the gallery at 111 West Ave., Saratoga Springs. The exhibit opened Friday, Feb. 25 and will remain on display through March 15.

Says the artist of her work: "I’ve wanted to pursue a degree in marine science ever since I was five, but on arriving at college I struggled to understand the science behind the ocean. It wasn’t until I studied for a degree in studio art as well, that I began to understand the way the marine world worked. My art focuses on marine organisms, and has over time evolved from simply looking at the organism’s form to looking at the processes that make each organism unique.

"I have multiple artistic passions that I’m only beginning to bring together. Within my sculpture, I use the line to create a three-dimensional drawing. I focus on using a range of steel bar to create marine organisms in a literal, almost scientific representation. By kerfing thick bar stock I can bend the steel into a matching contour of a specific creature’s form. With this skill, I’ve begun to depict a process within an organism’s life that is unique to that specific organism, such as bubble-net feeding is a specific type of feeding used by humpback whales.

"In my painting, I use mostly acrylics and watercolors. I enjoy throwing in passages of unrealistic color to trick the viewer’s eye, such as using blues and purples to express brown hair. I’m interested in the welfare of the oceans, and in art that makes a statement about the abuse the oceans have taken from human activity. I have begun to broach the topic of marine mammal conservation in my paintings and preliminary drawings, putting myself in the position of the marine mammal. I’m hoping to begin to overlap my work in sculpture and in painting, since I’m fascinated with both and wish to pursue what each allows me to express.

"By having one foot in the world of art and the other in the world of science, I feel I’m in a unique position to help others bridge this gap. My hope is that by using art to understand the marine world, I can create work that will allow others to understand the dynamic beauty and fragility of the ocean."

Curators for this event are students Helen Hall and Stephanie Hansen.

For more information, contact Helen Hall at nelehah@yahoo.com, or Stephanie Hansen at 518-222-3608 or shansen@ymail.com.