On Reflection: a Vanessa Somers Art Project
On Reflection is the largest art installation ever shown at John Cabot University. Encompassing all three campuses and including more than 30 individual paintings and drawings, as well as five site-specific installations, this ambitious and spectacular exhibition is a measure of the possibilities for art at John Cabot University.
The works by the painter Roberto Caracciolo form a single whole told in three distinct artistic statements – or stories – across campus spaces. Each series of works has been created and selected to resonate with the inherent character and rhythm of each campus.
The works are not displayed in a traditional gallery format but in synergetic relationship with the movement of students, faculty, staff, and visitors throughout each campus. In this way, each enhances the other: the experience of the works is inextricably linked to the experience of the space.
Seeing the works is much more than an individual experience. The act of viewing becomes an engagement with being and acting – both as an individual and as a member of a community. On Reflection brings the works into a single unified whole by underscoring that beauty is an active choice, and by the unassailable belief that art is a catalyst for thoughtful, creative thinking.
On Reflection is organized by the Vanessa Somers Art Project. Established through a generous donation of the Honorable Frederick Vreeland, John Cabot University Trustee, the Project will enable encounters with the arts and the art-world for the university community.
You can’t step into the same story twice – or maybe it’s that stories, books, art can’t step into the same person twice, maybe it’s that they allow for our mutability, are ready for us at all times, and maybe it’s this adaptability, regardless of time, that makes them art, because real art will hold us at all our different ages like it held all the people before us and will hold all the people after us, in an elasticity and with a generosity that allow for all our comings and goings.
Ali Smith Artful (2012)
The campus series
Critelli Campus hosts a dramatic, large-scale diptych and 20 strikingly elegant drawings. The diptych’s scale and chromatic weightiness echo the commanding physicality of the stairwell. The drawings instead explore contrasts in color – fiery orange and stable greys – divided by a delicate, primary line. These have been placed throughout the building, in order for the sequence of the series to be created and recomposed by each viewer’s route within the building.
At Tiber Campus, the works are all site-specific creations. The watercolor paintings on Japanese rice paper respond to the changing light in the stairwells. During the day, the filtering of light through the colors alters the space within; at night, they glow when seen from the outside. The works hung in the stairwells recall memories of flowers – roses, camellias, peonies, hydrangea. In the work on the landing, strokes of color evoke musical notes or chords. In both, visual rhythm resonates with the movement of the viewer.
Guarini Campus hosts works that explore color and gesture. By the Aula Magna Regina ten small paintings, united by the chromatic assonance of the color red, playfully trace Caracciolo’s artistic practice over almost two decades. Further up the stairs, the poetically complementary colors of Shimmer (2018) appear to respond to the light filtering in from the terraces. In Untitled (2010), visible in the Kushlan wing, color superimpositions, and repetitive gestures construct an arresting study of rhythm and daring. The delicacy and elegance of Untitled (2014) at the entrance, instead, almost belies painterly rigor: with dazzling virtuosity, it was completed in a single day. As in the other campus venues, the works are unified by their gentle but insistent invitation to engage, to be a participant in a community of ideas and excellence.
Roberto Caracciolo is an Italian painter and Lecturer of Studio Art at John Cabot University. He studied at the United World College of the Atlantic, in Wales; at the Istituto d’Arte di Urbino, in Italy, and at the New York Studio School. His work has been exhibited throughout Italy, Europe and the U.S.A. in galleries such as the Galleria Valeria Belvedere and Grossetti Arte Contemporanea in Milan; Galerie Blancpain Stepczynski in Geneva; André Emmerich Gallery and Loretta Howard Gallery in New York. He was the Art Liaison at the American Academy in Rome where, among other initiatives, he organized exhibitions and curated a Betty Woodman solo show in 2010.
(Professor Inge Lyse Hansen, Director of the Vanessa Somers Art Project)