Plattsburgh State senior Jonathan Forrence graduates in May after dozens of late -night work sessions with a Bachelor of Fine Arts degree, B.F.A., with a double concentration in sculpture and printmaking.
Forrence has been interested in art for many years, and although he was first drawn to photography, sculpting and printmaking were the mediums that ultimately attracted him the most. He first began taking photography classes at Clinton Community College then transferred to PSUC after the persuasion of his professors.
It wasn’t until he transferred to PSUC that Forrence became interested in fine art and sculpting. He said he looked at a lot of kinetic work when seeking inspiration in the beginning of his career but has since moved to static works too. Kinetic art refers to a type of art that is being propelled by something — the viewer, environment or motor. Static refers to something that is motionless.
This semester’s Senior Art Exhibition features six prints and seven steel sculptures of Forrence’s work, four of which are kinetic he said. All B.F.A. students must take part in this exhibition before graduation. The students present their work to faculty members early in the semester, and they determine which pieces qualify to be presented in the show. When the exhibit is first opened, students must give speeches about their experiences and present their work.
“As far as for me and my classmates, this is probably the largest show we’ve put on in our careers,” Forrence said. “It’s unbelievably rewarding to have people come up to you and talk to you about your work, but to get to that point, there’s a really heavy level of stress. A lot of 2 a.m. fine-tuning for the most minute details and being really meticulous. All that stress blows off after that speech. It’s just adrenaline.”
Associate professor in the art department Andrew Goerlitz said he has seen great improvement in many ways from Forrence since they met almost three years ago.
“Major improvement not only in his craft of making art, but also in his conceptual thinking about his art and his conceptual thinking about other people’s art,” Goerlitz said.
He said every piece of art should say something and have its own “visual vocabulary.” In that respect, Forrence has come a long way Goerlitz said.
“I think his senior exhibition was a great ending to his career at SUNY Plattsburgh,” Goerlitz said. “He definitely progressed and made professional-quality work, not just student-quality work.”
Forrence has plans to do an internship at Josephine Sculpture Park in Kentucky this summer which he hopes will lead to “fruitful connections.” He wants to apply to graduate school to receive his masters and someday become a professor. He said being an artist and a professor is the best thing he could do because it gives him everything he could want.
“Not just a steady paycheck, as well as allowing you to reinvest in the next generation of artists, but it also offers you time to do your own work,” he said. “It’s those three tiers. The comfort of knowing you’re not going to starve to death, the awesome experience of re-energizing people and also feeding off their energy and having the opportunity to do your own work as well.”
PSUC senior Ashley Lester met Forrence in 2011 at CCC and have since been in the same program at PSUC. She said Forrence is a “wacky, eccentric and fun” person who has a light personality.
Despite his personality, Lester said his work comes off more serious than he is in real life. She said the two were often working during the same times throughout the years.
“He’s always caring, and he’s always working,” she said. “Whenever I’m there, he’s here. Whenever he’s there, I’m there.”
Lester sees him working at a sculpture park in the future and doesn’t think he will ever stop creating art.
Forrence said for anyone seeking a career or major in art, be prepared for full dedication to your craft.
“It’s extremely demanding mentally, physically, emotionally and time,” he said. “It demands all your time, and you think you’re going to college to have the Van Wilder college experience; the art major is not that.”
He said throughout his time at PSUC, he has formed such immensely close bonds with peers and professors that it feels like a second family. Having that support system is critical when under pressures throughout semesters he said. As a whole, Forrence thought the group of B.F.A. students of 2017 put on an amazing show that tied together nicely.
Email Laura Schmidt at firstname.lastname@example.org