By Sydney Hakes
Two students were awarded limited edition copies of two of Rockwell Kent’s books this past weekend at the Celebration of the Spirit of Rockwell Kent symposium.
The books, “Salamina” and “Rockwell Kent: An Anthology of his Works” were donated by local Kent scholars to be raffled off to two SUNY Plattsburgh students.
Museum Director Tonya Cribb has been tirelessly working to provide new events and opportunities to all Plattsburgh students and surrounding community. She hopes even small giveaways like these will catch the attention of students of all majors.
“Salamina,” first published in 1935, detailed Kent’s second trip to Greenland. Along with his identifiable black and white illustrations, Kent tells of his time in vignettes, eventually focusing on his indigenous housekeeper, for which the book is named after.
The book was donated by Kent scholar Scott Ferris, an alumni from SUNY Plattsburgh who catalogs and consults about Kent’s work.
“As a graduate from SUNY Plattsburgh and as someone who helped catalog the Kent collection in the Feinberg Library, I want to stress the value of Kent’s work to students,” Ferris said.
Ferris said “Salamina” is a look into who Kent was, from his experiences to his personal thoughts, all influencing his art.
Psychology major Cellan Hogan was the winner of “Salamina.” She was checking out Denis Defibaugh’s “North by Nuuk” exhibit and saw the raffle box.
“I came to Plattsburgh to pursue psychology, but the art community on campus was also a huge plus for me,” Hogan said. “I’m always impressed with all forms of art. It’s something that I’ve always had a passion for whether it was music or viewing paintings.”
Hogan went on to say she thinks the art in Plattsburgh is underappreciated.
“It’s one of the reasons Plattsburgh is special, especially for a smaller campus,” Hogan said. “I’m not any type of art major or minor, but I know art helps me get out of my own mind and probably would for others. There are so many mediums and styles, anyone can relate to something.”
Knowing a fair amount about Kent and his work, Hogan is looking forward to learning more about him from his own account.
Like Hogan, the winner of the second book, “Rockwell Kent: An Anthology of his Works,” is not an art major. Penny Amero is currently a history major hoping to transfer into the criminal justice program.
She first learned of Rockwell Kent during an art class at Clinton Community College when she had to recreate one of his landscape paintings. Since then, she has felt inspiration specifically from his depictions of the natural world.
She was “over the moon” when she heard she had won the raffle, and specifically the anthology.
“Rockwell Kent: An Anthology” was a match made for Amero. With over 350 pages, the book is filled with detailed and vibrant photographs of Kent’s work. It was donated by Connie Erdelac, whose father was a collector of Kent’s work.
Her and Ferris both donated hoping to expand the interests and curiosities of Plattsburgh students. Something as simple as a book or a giveaway can spark that.
“Books like this open another window into the art world,” Amero said. “I can see some of his work online or at the gallery in Feinberg, but this is something I can take home and divulge in. It’s priceless.”
With such a positive reaction for the winners, Cribb is motivated to continue events like these. In the wake of the total shutdown during the COVID-19 pandemic, any event to get students into the galleries and involved with the arts is a valuable endeavor.
“I know the art department is putting on these great events, but the reach is only so far,” Amero said. “No one really wants to venture outside of their discipline. People don’t realize there is some form of art for everyone. Not only that, but there’s an artist within everyone.”
Amero speaks with passion and conviction, not hesitating to give her thoughts on the college’s benefits and drawbacks, from involvement of the arts to supporting athletics.
At the end of the day, she hopes that more students and community members will use their free time to enrich their lives through art.
To stay up to date on events held by the art department and museum, visit the SUNY Plattsburgh website.