Gallery View: Student artists
“Studying Artists: Portraits of Baum School of Art Students by Marco Calderon” is a series of large format digital photographic prints mounted on foam board on view through Feb. 8, David E. Rodale and Rodale Family Galleries, The Balm School of Art, Fifth and Linden streets, Allentown.
“People are my passion. I love faces. But more than [that] I love faces, I love ideas. I love that we are so different from each other …,” Calderon says of his work and the Baum exhibit.
Calderon, a trustee of the Baum School of Art and a member of the board of directors of The Literacy Center, Allentown, took photographs of the students in 2016 with the goal of celebrating Baum School’s 90th anniversary.
The exhibition includes photo portraits of children, teens and adults and reflect the cultural diversity of the community that a the Baum School serves.
The photographer tied the images together by shooting the portraits with a translucent window shade in the background. As he photographed the artists, Calderon interviewed them. Their comments are represented adjacent to each photograph.
One of his younger subjects is Cooper Thompson, who proudly holds up what he created in ceramics class. The enthusiastic 9-year-old, who has been taking classes in drawing, painting, sculpture and ceramics at Baum since 2014, states: “I like art because it allows you to do things that you could never do before. Like, for instance, dragons aren’t real but you can draw a dragon and actually make it real.”
Nzigirabarya “Leo” Leocadia, a high school sophomore at Building 21, a career-focused high school at Lehigh Street and Martin Luther King Jr. Boulevard, Allentown, is receiving college credit for studying illustration at Baum through a partnership with Lehigh Carbon Community College. The petite art student with the wide smile says of her experience at Baum: “They want to help you find your passion and what you are good at.”
Harold Siegfried shares a bond with his black service dog in a Calderon portrait. Siegfried began studying painting and figure and portrait sculpture at Baum in 2016. He told the photographer: “My art is my therapy for empowerment, for healing, for to better myself, to better the people around me through my art, to express what it is I am feeling.”
Doe Levan laughs as she works on jewelry with a mallet and punch in another of Calderon’s portraits. The 91-year-old metals-smithing student states: “I began making art 40 years ago at the Baum School of Art. I started in order to do something with my hands. I wanted to create and work with silver. I find it very relaxing and very rewarding to work with metal.”
Calderon emigrated from Mexico eight years ago, working as a movie projectionist at Civic Theatre, Allentown, before transitioning into a career in portrait and wedding photography.
The Jan. 19 opening reception was in conjunction with Allentown’s “Destination Arts: Third Thursday” event.
Baum School of Art Executive Director Shannon S. Fugate, just back to work from maternity leave, thanked Calderon for his work. Baum Director of Exhibitions and Collections Kristine Kotsch and operations and Director of Operations and Marketing Laurie Siegfried presented 8 in. by 12 in. prints of the portraits to each of Calderon’s 20 student subjects.
The exhibit is sponsored by the Zelenkofske Family and BB&T.
Gallery hours: 9 a.m. - 9 p.m. Monday - Thursday, 9 a.m. - 3 p.m. Friday and Saturday. Closed Sunday. Information: baumschool.org; 610-433-0032.