Creating Art in Chelsea

Posted by Francesca Toscano on Wednesday, April 11, 2012

This entry originally published March 5, 2012.

Having the opportunity to live and working New York City is undeniably exciting. Waking up in Manhattan outside my window every morning is an incredible feeling, and the fascinating clients and creative campaigns at Nike Communications, the luxury public relations agency where I intern, are always riveting. Therefore, it might seem as though taking courses amongst these exciting happenings would become mundane and dull. However, the interesting courses being offered by the College in the New York City program have added depth to my experience.

A perfect example of how amazing the courses have been thus far was my class experience last Saturday. I am taking Art and Architecture of New York City, a course that emphasizes New York City’s influence on the art world throughout history. We take weekly trips to museums and exhibits, led by our incredibly friendly and passionate professor Harry Weil. As a girl who couldn’t distinguish a Picasso from a Pollock prior to this class, my understanding and love for art history has grown exponentially.

Last Saturday, our class met in the Chelsea neighborhood of Manhattan to explore local art galleries. Completely unaware of Chelsea’s bustling art scene, I was amazed as we navigated blocks flooded with galleries. From traditional paintings to the completely abstract (such as a picture of crumbled paper on crumbled paper), Chelsea is a haven for those interested in works from both famous and underground artists.

The most interesting part of the afternoon was walking into the Elizabeth Gallery on 20th Street between 10th and 11th Avenues. Alternative artist Ryan McNamara’s performance art exhibition Still was underway, and when our class walked through the gallery doors we were greeted by Mr. McNamara himself. He excitedly handed the group monster masks and made us collectively pose in a variety of different ways as he took pictures of us. He then told us he would create art with it and send us the finished product. He shared one of his photos with us (see photo) and I hope that ‘our’ work makes it to the second part of his exhibit where he’ll show the pieces that he and his gallery goers created. However, whether we’re in the show or not, having the opportunity to become artists ourselves in one of New York’s most prestigious art neighborhoods was an experience I will never forget.

Sure, midterms and homework assignments can seem annoying while studying in one of the most fascinating cities in the world. However, the classes offered in the New York City program perfectly balance traditional academia with the incredible opportunities available only in New York.