Reviewed by Chris Bahr

Attending the opening reception of the Binghamton University Department of Art & Design’s faculty exhibition was a very interesting and eclectic experience.

Located in the Fine Arts Building’s Elsie B. Rosefsky Memorial Art Gallery (Room 259), this cross-section of work is a good introduction to the faculty members’ oeuvres. An underlying theme of transformation ties together the different artists’ works, materials and topics.

As I wandered in, there was a group of children gathered around what looked to be an antique phone on a pedestal. The piece, “Our Entanglements” by artist Kevin Lahoda, was more complicated than at first glance. The idea of communication was intriguing to everyone who stopped to look at the phone, or as the children did, pick up the receiver and say, “Hello? Hello?” repeatedly.

They didn’t make use of the technology programmed into the phone or know it was there. The media incorporated: internet, VOIP, antique phone and mobile phone. I was amazed they were so taken with the analog phone. I asked the parents if they knew what it was, and they said, well, sort of. Communication carried across generations in such a simple way — really fascinating.

Adjoining this piece was “Home Again,” an oil painting, very skillfully rendered as well as psychologically disturbing, by painter Andrea Kastner. It appeared, upon first glance, that being home again is a difficult homecoming as it seems a natural disaster of some sort has occurred.

Blazo Kovacevic’s “Truck for fifty-four illegal passengers” was exceptionally well executed and displayed. A digital print on window clings, his work deals with immigration issues. The way it is presented really is quite moving. During different points of the day, you can see the passengers in the back of the van. Other points of the day, you cannot — only the van transporting them. The juxtaposition of transparency and opacity are utilized well to make his point.

Bryan Thomas’s piece, “Untitled, Afghan,” was a witty play on a crocheted afghan that a grandma might crochet. As you approach the piece, in closer proximity you can see it is actually toy soldiers configured to look like a crocheted afghan, and, of course, it is a commentary on war.

Thomas has a body of work I have seen that uses toy soldiers in a sculptural way that changes your perceptions and challenges you to think about his subject in a different way.

Ronald Gonzalez does not fail to disappoint in his installation piece, “Grotesque Head.” A small niche that is long and thin displays heads made of repurposed boxing gloves, wax and wire over welded steel. It is very disturbing and yet somehow humorous. I’ve seen his work develop over the years, and it is always challenging to confront the seething anger and playfulness that seem to simultaneously exist in his art.

I was quite taken with Colin Lyons’ piece, “Contingency Plan (Prototype),” I can’t do it justice here, but the vitrine with iron artifacts, Plexiglas, steel, sulfuric acid, hydrochloric acid, grow lights, pump and water samples comes with a beautifully printed fold-out brochure describing the piece. It really draws the viewer in from across the room; it glows and you want to know what it is about.

Works by the talented Kathyrn Niles, Frank Chang, Alexandra Davis, Alisha Brunelli and more also are on display. I highly recommend seeing this exhibition. Call the gallery for hours of operation: 777-2667. The exhibit runs through April 18.