Science and art come together with ‘Crayfish’ exhibit

By Ian Beabout, Online Editor

On Wednesday, October 28th, The Nutting Gallery opened its latest exhibition, “The Crayfish Invitational.” This exhibit is based on the crayfish research conducted by Dr. Zachary Loughman and features student and professional artwork centered on a crayfish theme.

I’ll freely admit I know absolutely nothing about art, but I couldn’t help but be impressed with the talent on display here. The artwork ranged from a variety of mediums and styles, with conventional paintings, along with photography, mixed media, sculpture and just about anything else you can imagine.

I found myself personally drawn to the more oddball entries. As an avid music collector, my heart skipped a beat when I saw a vinyl record utilized in one of the more unconventional pieces, Mark Janicko’s “Spider Baby”, but something about the dark quirkiness of the piece made it difficult to look away. I can’t say I’m familiar with the defaced record in question (Claudette?), but the pistol wielding dark figures pasted onto the vinyl, coupled with a photo of a crayfish that reads “and then she shot him …” made for an eerily disturbing work that fired my imagination endlessly.

A piece that is somewhat more conventional, but nonetheless striking is Seth Miller’s “Carapace”, a photograph of a young woman in a purple field with a red glove on her left forearm. What struck me about the work is not only its size (it is probably the largest work on display), but the colors and mood it cast over me. The woman seems somewhat perplexed judging by her expression, but also quite lonely. I couldn’t help but wonder what her story might be.

Another particularly strange piece was “Codorus Creek Detritus”, a wood-based sculpture by Tom Estlack. I found it intriguing, because it was made almost entirely of found objects such as wood, gears, and most interestingly a tire. What drew me to this work is that it was actually interactive – you could turn a crank and get the wheel to turn via a belt and cogs. It reminded me a bit of a Rube Goldberg machine and it inspired me to wonder what impossible tasks it might be capable of.

The sci-fi geek in me was endlessly enthralled by the work of Professor Brian Fencl – a classic 1950’s Weird Science replica comic book art featuring the heroic Dr. Loughman battling giant crayfish from Mars. I loved it. Fellow Professor, Robert Villamagna picked up the theme with his own very sci-fi work It’s Alive, on the Inside, featuring a redheaded woman riding a giant crayfish. Very charming in a 1950s sort of way.

I truly enjoyed my first trip to the Nutting Gallery as I am always excited to see the talent of fellow students on display. I actually found myself a bit overwhelmed on Wednesday, so I took the chance to go back and view the works by myself, in order to reach some introspective conclusions about them, and I highly recommend doing so. The exhibit is open until November 19th from 8:30 a.m. until 2:30 p.m.

For more information visit here and you can check out the Nutting Gallery Facebook page for information and photos of the works on display.