To Paint or Not To Paint

by Press Release--Rutgers-Camden | Mar 19, 2009
To Paint or Not To Paint Has the keyboard edged out the paintbrush? Is the hologram the new canvas? A two-day symposium at Rutgers University–Camden will explore the changing role of the painter in today’s high-tech world on Friday, March 27, and Saturday, March 28, while twin exhibitions at the Rutgers–Camden Stedman Gallery and the Hopkins House Gallery of Contemporary Art will highlight the varied work of traditionally trained painters through April 25.

“To Be Or Not To Be: A Painter’s Dilemma” begins at 10 a.m. Friday and Saturday and will feature such panel discussions as “Training the Next Generation” and “Painting and New Media.” Coordinated by Margery Amdur, an associate professor of art at Rutgers–Camden, the symposium will assemble artists from across the country for lively public debate and exhibitions that will showcase the state of painting today. Receptions for the simultaneous shows will begin at 5 p.m. Friday, March 27, at the Stedman Gallery, and 5 p.m. Saturday, March 28, at the Hopkins House.

“All of the presenters and exhibitors are formally trained as painters. Some continue to paint, others are activists, performance artists, photographers, and filmmakers,” says Amdur. “There is such a range of work to be shown and discussed, from artists who address contemporary issues in Old Master-style to artists whose final product is a hologram.”

The idea for the symposium evolved from Amdur’s experiences teaching centuries-old traditions of art to students of the digital generation at Rutgers–Camden. To get students to decompress from their media-saturated lives, Amdur mandates moments of silence. For Millennials who perpetually text, blog and Twitter, 10 minutes to just sit can be tough.

“Students resist this, but they say in critiques that this is where they got their best ideas,” says Amdur, who has required her students to attend the symposium, as well as interview a visiting artist. Sophomore art major Renee Giannobile says her art is very much connected to technology. “I actually think that the ‘busyness’ aspect of the world highly affects my art, which is very hectic, very busy, and very emotional,” says the Winslow resident, who has interviewed artist Carol Prusa about how she came to be a painter.

Junior Cheryl Christopher of Turnersville interviewed artist Pam Longobardi. “As students, we don’t always see ourselves as artists, only practicing art. But after my interview, I got so many ideas of how to create art, I felt more ready to learn” says Christopher.

Other artists participating in the symposium include Hugo Bastidus, Carla Gannis, Scott Noel, Rebecca Saylor Sack, and Lance Winn. According to Bruce Garrity, curator at the Hopkins House and a symposium organizer, the challenge of the exhibit will be how to present works as expansions of painting.

“We’re dealing with a broad range of both media and practice, from the traditional to works no longer even recognizable as painting. While painting is at the base of all these artists’ work, the arena of painting has expanded into all sorts of image strategies,” says Garrity, who also teaches core curriculum courses at Rutgers–Camden.

Students won’t be the only group learning at the symposium. Amdur, whose mixed-media works have been shown in numerous solo exhibitions across the nation and the world, admits to being a bit of a technophobe.

“This is a new territory for teachers and students. No matter the medium, an artist’s voice will always need to be authentic. The question becomes how does an artist choose a medium that most effectively meets their concerns?”

The panel discussions will take place in Room 110 of the Fine Arts Complex, located on Third Street, between Cooper Street and the Benjamin Franklin Bridge on the Rutgers–Camden Campus. Receptions and exhibitions will take place at the Stedman Gallery, also located within the Fine Arts Complex at Rutgers–Camden, and the Hopkins House, located at 250 South Park Drive in Haddon Township. For a complete schedule, visit

While the exhibitions are free, tickets for the symposium are $20 for the general public; $15 for Camden County residents; $10 for students; and free for Rutgers students with ID. For reservations, call (856) 225-6161.

Sponsors of the symposium include the Camden County Cultural Heritage Commission; the Rutgers–Camden Department of Fine Arts; the Rutgers–Camden Center for the Arts; the Rutgers–Camden Honors College; and the New Jersey State Council on the Arts.

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Author: Press Release--Rutgers-Camden


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