Canvassing for Success

By Emma Kersting '24, August 12, 2022

Alum is named a finalist in national art competition.

Last fall, Marvin Brown ’21 was named a finalist for the Miami University Young Painters Competition. By being selected as a finalist in the competition, which is open to painters who are 25 to 35, two of Brown’s painting were showcased in a gallery at the university.

While Brown had high hopes of success in the competition, he was also grateful for the opportunity to share his work.

“It seemed like a good opportunity to get work out and shown outside of school,” he said.

Brown submitted five paintings for the competition, which all have a lot of muted or neutral colors with similarities in tone and hue. He added that he does not typically go into a painting with a plan, “I work a lot from intuition, I always start from scratch,” he said.

A transfer student from Tompkins Cortland Community College, where he earned an associate degree in liberal arts and sciences, Brown didn’t always know that this was going to be his path. That changed when he arrived at IC in the fall of 2019, majoring in art with a minor in graphic design.

“A lot of faculty members were helpful to me. Feedback from professors gave me the push that I needed. I had the time and space to work and the freedom and flexibility to experiment and find my own voice in my art.”

Marvin Brown ’21

“I never really fully committed to studying art until after graduating from TC3, but I had always been interested in art,” Brown said.

Brown credits Patti Capaldi, assistant professor of art, art history, and architecture, with being a mentor and influence on him during his time on South Hill. Capaldi became a mentor to Brown around the summer of 2020, helping him to improve his paintings and graphic design. She also pushed Brown to apply to graduate school and encouraged him to enter the competition.

“Marvin is a responsive and dedicated student who at the time when I met him did not completely understand his own voice with his art practice and where he wanted to go,” Capaldi said. “But he followed his intuition with much prompting, and became more and more enthusiastic during our meetings and discussions.”

Another positive influence was instructor of art Neil Infalvi, who Brown said advanced his work by pushing him to experiment.

“A lot of faculty members were helpful to me. Feedback from professors gave me the push that I needed,” he said. “I had the time and space to work and the freedom and flexibility to experiment and find my own voice in my art.”

[Marvin's] work is researched, thoughtful, and engages with the historical and contemporary artworlds. He's created his own visual language – and it's beautiful. In the rapidly changing job market, the most valuable skills a graduate can learn are creative problem solving, critical thinking, and visual literacy. That is what our courses and faculty instill in our students.”

Dara Engler, associate professor and chair of the art department

Dara Engler, associate professor and chair of the art department, said that Brown’s success is a testament to his talent and a prime example the college’s philosophy of theory, practice, and performance.

“Marvin is a talented young artist with an impressive drive and commitment to making. He worked independently on breaks, seeking out feedback, and applying to artist's opportunities,” Engler said. “His work is researched, thoughtful, and engages with the historical and contemporary artworlds. He's created his own visual language – and it's beautiful. In the rapidly changing job market, the most valuable skills a graduate can learn are creative problem solving, critical thinking, and visual literacy. That is what our courses and faculty instill in our students. Students leave the Ithaca College Art Department with a lifelong network for faculty and peers committed to their success.”

After being named a finalist, Brown received congratulations from many Ithaca College professors and his peers.

“The support means a lot, I felt like I was on this journey with [my peers] for two years,” he said. ““It was also nice to get that response from outside critics.”

Brown is still active, applying to other competitions as well as graduate school, where he wants to pursue a master’s degree in fine arts.

“I want to keep growing, painting, and studying art,” he said.