More than 200 attendees crowded the two-story Teaching Gallery on campus to view the final artwork of Hudson Valley’s art students at the Juried Student Art Exhibit on Apr. 17.
The annual exhibit provides students enrolled in the Fine Arts, Theatre Arts and Broadcast Communications (FATABC) department with an opportunity to display their year’s work and grow accustomed to the world of art galleries and shows.
“The aim of this event is to serve as a learning process for the students,” said Tara Fracalossi, the founding director of the Teaching Gallery. “It teaches them how to get their work ready, how to get it in here on time, and how to be accepted into a show. But it also is an end-of-year celebration to show just how amazing all these guys are. ”
The Teaching Gallery was created in 2001 and holds five shows a year, with the student exhibit being the largest. However, the Administration Building on campus has not always been the location of Hudson Valley’s student exhibitions. In fact, the college has not always had student exhibitions.
“Tom Lail,” said Mark Colyer, a Hudson Valley alumnus who graduated in 2014. “He’s the man. He started this program maybe 20 years ago, and without him this wouldn’t be happening right now.”
Thomas Lail, an associate professor in the college’s FATABC department, started teaching in 1993 and was responsible for helping to create the associate degree program in Fine Arts at the college shortly after he was hired. It was because of his work that the very first student exhibition at the college was held in the atrium of the McDonough Sports Complex.
“The first student show was about 20 years ago,” said Fracalossi, who has been teaching at the college for 23 years. “We used to make all the students hang their own work, and they would have to sit there and guard their work because it wasn’t a closed space. We would end up being there until three in the morning, and it was a nightmare.”
However, nightmares do not last forever, and as the program changed, so did the location of the art show.
“Eventually, we moved the gallery to where the library café is now,” said Fracalossi. “For the last eight years we’ve been in this space, and it has been amazing to give the students better lighting and a real place to display their art.”
While still growing, the art program has already accomplished and provided much in the minds of its students.
“I feel like most people don’t know how great Hudson Valley’s art program really is,” said Sara Alonge, a Fine Arts major in her sixth semester at Hudson Valley. “We not only have student shows here, but we have exhibiting artists who are kingpins in the city and artists from all around the country who show here. It’s pretty cool that we get to show in the same gallery as some of our idols.”
Through the dedication of its students and its teachers, the Fine Arts program at Hudson Valley has become a center of creativity. In the eyes of one of its students, it was even a defining chapter in his life.
“I never considered art as a career until I came here and met Tom and Tara,” said Colyer, the 2014 alumnus, who currently studies visual arts sculpture at SUNY Purchase. “They really cultivate the students’ drive and passion for art.”
It was this same drive and passion that started the Fine Arts program at Hudson Valley and, according to its students, what makes it so unique.
“This place and what you get out of it is like nothing else,” said Colyer. “If you ask anybody who graduated from here, they’ll say the same thing.”