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February 2007
Volume 2, Number 2

Art in the Corporate Community

Susan Breault

Image 1Pizza and cake are normal daily fare in the Foster Corporation’s lunchroom. The pizza may be edible, but the cake is part of a work of art, Let Them Eat Cake, by 2006 Quinebaug Valley Community College graduate Jennifer Kuszaj of Danielson, Connecticut. Foster Corporation is a full-service material solutions company serving medical device, pharmaceutical delivery, and biotechnology companies with extremely precise polymer technologies.

Kuszaj was one of the art students at QVCC who was selected to display art work by the Dayville, Connecticut, manufacturer over a six-month period beginning in June 2006. The Quinebaug Valley Community College Student Art in the Corporate Community program is adding color, interest, and style to the walls, conference rooms, and entryways of manufacturers in the local community. Foster’s industrial park neighbor, FilmX Technologies, a leading domestic and international supplier of specialty film products and custom converting services, helped to form this collaborative effort with the College Fine Arts Program and local businesses.

Image2The inception of the program took place after FilmX Technologies’ General Manager, Michael Quarrey, attended a Plastics Industry meeting at the QVCC Danielson campus in December 2004. Quarrey had the opportunity to view the semiannual student art show in the lobby of the college and was impressed with the quality of the work he was viewing. After returning to FilmX Technologies in Dayville, Quarrey sought out FilmX employee Viola Brown, who was also a QVCC art student at the time. This led to discussions between Cindy Swanson, QVCC art gallery director and adjunct art faculty member, and Mark Szantyr, the fine arts program coordinator at the college, about the possibility of displaying student art in various workspaces throughout FilmX. Quarrey’s goal was to create an interesting and potentially thought-provoking environment for his co-workers.

The first display was installed at FilmX Technologies in January 2005. The work of six talented students was displayed on the walls of the conference room, lobby, and lunchroom of the manufacturer. The art selection takes place during the end-of-semester student art shows in December and May. The companies and the art department work closely to select art in various media. Some of the works have included paintings, drawings, digital prints, ceramics, sculpture, and three-dimensional design. This first semester, Michael was interested in digital prints from fine arts instructor Annie Joly’s digital imaging class, particularly in a project called Pete and Prunella Produce. Students drew and manipulated images of fruit and produce in the Adobe Photoshop computer program. Quarrey chose three digital prints and eventually purchased one of the prints from the collection for his office. He also chose several pieces, primarily still-life paintings from Mark Szantyr’s Painting I class, for the lunchroom.

image3The first show met with great success. FilmX employees voiced their appreciation at having the work to look at and at the same time the students benefited from having their art work out in the community. Soon after, Foster Corporation also became part of the program. The success has enabled the program to expand to additional manufacturers, and organizers hope the program will continue to grow with other businesses becoming involved. Each piece of art work is cataloged and students need to agree to have their work displayed during the six-month period. Cindy Swanson added “It is empowering for students to have their work displayed outside of the college studios and galleries and enable them to build their portfolio with a professional experience at the same time.”

Quarrey said, “We believe the program is a great way to bring the creative arts into the workplace. It helps stimulate our own thinking about new products and new business processes. Our employees and visitors always enjoy the student art work. Employees are asking ‘What is coming next?’”

Quarrey is a staunch supporter of the college and has personally purchased a piece of art from the student show after each of the displays since January 2005. In the spring of 2005, he purchased a piece from Nicky Freitag called Zipperhead. This was a papier-mâché and wire art work from Cindy Swanson's sculpture class. In fall 2006, he purchased Abstract Composition from Julie Patterson, a work from Swanson's three-dimensional design class.

Patterson came to QVCC after moving with her family to Brooklyn, Connecticut, in 2004. Patterson is a veteran of the United States Marine Corps, having served 12 years after graduating from Boston Latin High School in 1992. Patterson started attending Quinebaug Valley Community College in 2005 and graduated in December 2006 with an associate degree in Fine Arts. Patterson spoke highly of her experience with the program. “I think that this program is a unique opportunity for up-and-coming artists. Getting your name out in the community has always been a struggle for most young artists and this program creates an almost symbiotic relationship where the artist might benefit from the exposure and the company might enhance the work environment by sponsoring new artists in the community.” Patterson was accepted by the University of Connecticut where she plans to continue her education with a major in architecture and a minor in political science.

December 2006 marked the fifth exhibit at FilmX. With each semester, more pieces are being installed than the previous semester. The program has met with some expansion obstacles. Many students at the college transfer to four-year colleges and need their work to document their progress. One of the ideas being examined is to reduce the length of the exhibition to one to two months per location, thus allowing the work to be returned to students if necessary. Decreasing the length of each exhibit would also allow the program to be taken to additional locations. Regardless of the obstacles, there is a strong commitment to the program and a strong connection between the business community in northeast Connecticut and Quinebaug Valley Community College. This program is just another example of how closely the college is tied to the community.

For more information, contact Susan Breault, Public Relations Associate at Quinebaug Valley Community College.

Photos courtesy of Susan Breault

Cynthia Wilson, Editor