New Layers of Autumn exhibition in Kelley Adirondack Center

Allyson Bennett, News Editor

Kelley Adirondack Center has opened its new exhibit, the Layers of Autumn. It is a series of paintings by 6 students in Professor Laini Nemett’s Fall 2022 Plein Air Painting (AVA-365) course. Students from the course painted scenic landscapes from around Union, including Jackson’s Gardens, but also places further afield, like the Mohawk River.

I conceived of the class after spending most of the early pandemic painting days from life in my neighborhood. I painted the same scene from my porch or window throughout the time we sheltered in place,” Professor Nemett described. “I learned more about color and paint during this time than almost ever before, even though I’d been painting my whole life… During peak fall in 2021, I saw textbook principles of color theory everywhere in the foliage surrounding me and it was an obvious next step to design this course for the following fall at Union.” 

Students painted in a variety of outdoor parks, including the Mohawk River, Kaaterskill Falls, and Jackson’s Garden. For some students, it was their first painting course. The paintings focused on the landscapes of the scenes and the color and light present. 

“I took Plein Air painting because it was a fantastic opportunity to paint outside the studio… The light is constantly shifting, and you get colors that are difficult to imagine inside a studio which is a challenge but very exciting,” Saliha Nazir ’23, a student in the course, said. 

“The most meaningful experience was learning how to look at nature and the environment differently, and being able to see colors and light behave in a new way. It was something throughout the term that I began to do even outside of class,” Natalie Berg-Pappert ’23, another student in the course, described. “Because of this, I believe that everyone should try to learn how to look deeper at the world around them, if not through painting, then through some other creative outlet. It was truly a valuable experience.” 

Students can see the exhibit in the Kelly Adirondack Center, about a 10-minute drive from Union’s campus, through June 4, 2023. The Kelley Adirondack Center is located at 897 St David’s Lane in Niskayuna. 

“I hope to teach this course at least every other fall. The content will be largely the same, but I imagine we will add another field trip and spend more time on certain paintings… This fall the leaves changed so fast that it was difficult to spend multiple days on one painting… I do hope to return to the same painting spot during class days on a few more occasions in future terms.” Professor Nemett said when asked if she would teach the course again. 

Union’s Visual Arts Department offers majors in Art History and Studio Fine Arts, with additional concentrations available. This course was geared toward Studio Fine Arts majors and minors. On campus, the Feigenbaum Center for Visual Art also has a variety of other galleries.