About Our Show

These are strange days for all of us and have forced us into alienated habits. One of these is that the ceremony of an end of year show, where graduate students would share their work with the community at large, and integrate the forces of that community into their work, will not take place. There is a kinetic experience that people go through when they see a work of art. It affects their whole body and all their senses. You just can’t have that experience online, unless of course the work is made to be on line. But we move forward regardless and celebrate the hard work and accomplishments of our graduate students at William Paterson University with this online show, We, the Gradunauts. This includes the work of 11 students at different stations in their studies, showcasing their work from the 2019-2020 academic year. 


I am always intrigued by the energy of a community and this year’s students are no different. They’ve been part of two courses back to back from Fall 2019 and Spring 2020. These are Nature of Imagination and Creativity  and Studio Practice Critique, and I’ve been fortunate enough to be the professor for both classes. They all bring a great talent, distinct approaches, and cultural diversity to their work. Especially they bring the drive to be an artist, to feel the experience of standing next to their creative fire and seeing the fire of others as well.


We, the Gradunauts is taken from the portmanteau of graduate and astronaut and was chosen from the greeting that I used at the beginning of every email I sent to the students. I wanted to imply that they were in a graduate program but they were also on an adventure, a kind of world building exercise. This makes them an astronaut, exploring this novel space and exploring it in proximity with others intrepid souls. This activity takes some courage, strength and commitment. I think you’ll see all that here.


Helene Brenenson, Taylor Cacici, Amal Elnahrawy, Richard Franco, Jeremy Fuscaldo, Jennifer Hammer, Colling Hassler, Linda Majzner, Jonte Silver, Melissa Silvestri, and Sarah Van Vliet have organized their online exhibition and contributed all the documentation of the works, made statements and bios , and finally have created a companion Instagram page that will be ongoing throughout the summer titled wethegradunauts. These students will take over the account on regular intervals and showcase their works, works in progress, or whatever else moves them throughout the summer.


Special thanks goes to Jonte Silver and Melissa Silvestri for the design and execution of the site. Our Instagram page, wethegradunauts, has been organized through the help of Helene Brennenson.


We also dedicate this show to the memory of Mark Flipkowski a friend, colleague and fellow student in the Master of Fine Arts graduate program since 2017. Mark was returning to art after a long career as a PH.D physicist publishing over 58 papers. He worked on developing new science for the Defense Advanced Research Projects Agency. Everyone who knew him enjoyed his unassuming character and intense intellect.




Michael Rees

Professor Sculpture and Digital Media

Director The Center for New Art


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