Drue Sokol, Photo Editor

At a university with over 240 student groups, it’s quite a feat when one that’s only two years old distinguishes itself. But with the completion of a successful and poised fundraising art gala on Saturday, Dec. 1, UR’s GlobeMed Chapter managed to do just that.

Held at the 1975 Gallery in the city of Rochester’s East End, GlobeMed pulled together an intimate, artistic opening reception for their exhibit “Celebration of Growth.” It was the latest in a continuous effort to raise money toward enhancing health and social justice conditions in their sister city, Iquitos, Peru.

“Our partner organization, Kallpa Iquitos uses art and creativity as an outlet for youth in the community to gain self-confidence and engage in healthy, productive activities (as an alternative to youth gangs, for instance),”” GlobeMed Co-Presidents senior Jeremy Harding and junior Ria Pal said. “Their success has been inspirational to us over these past few years, so we wanted to do an event that would celebrate them, as well as draw on the many ties between our communities.” “

Although guests had to make their way down one of the less desirable streets in Rochester to seek out this event, they were rewarded with a veritable beacon of food, light, art and the bubbling noises of enthusiastic people in the middle of an otherwise bleak area.

At such a casual university, it’s not often that a collegiate event features well-dressed patrons and a general perceived level of elegance, but the gallery was filled to the brim with tired students magically turned chic, noshing on tiny slices of baklava, Greek wedding cookies and other gustatory delights, listening to a string quartet comprised entirely of GlobeMed members and sipping on hand-brewed Ethiopian coffee — although it probably would have been more appropriate had the coffee been Peruvian. All of the above was just a lovely complement to the main event, though — the artwork.

GlobeMed selected 33 works of art that will hang in the gallery until Dec. 15, and all are for sale. The works’ creators include local students at UR, Nazareth College, Monroe Community College, Rochester Institute of Technology and St. John Fisher College, as well as several professional artists in the community.

Three of the most eye-catching and intriguing pieces on display are “Dancing Queen,” “Evolution City” and “A Place in Heaven,” all by Pamela Araya. The first two were created on wood and the last on ripped cardboard, but all integrate a mixture of large bursts of vibrant color with sparse areas drawn solely in what looks like black permanent marker.

In each piece, the bursts of colors and large scale of the artwork act to draw the eye in from across the room, but the slightly unfinished quality of the rest of the piece kept guests pensively lingering during the opening reception.

“Evolution City” in particular depicted a topic popular in art right now: the collision of nature with industry. Unsurprisingly, the nature in the scene was portrayed in energetic colors, while the industry popping up in the middle of it was portrayed as strokes of lifeless black.

Some of the other strong works currently displayed at the gallery are “Needed: New Perspectives” and “Heartlines” by senior Jacq Carpentier, and “Apostomis: Skullcap” by senior Olivia Morgan.

Carpentier’s first piece is a reproduction of a character from the graphic novel “Persepolis” by Marjane Satrapi. Painted in black on a backdrop of pages ripped from a book, this character, from where it hangs high up on the wall, appears to be peering down contentedly at the gallery below her.

Carpentier’s other piece is a print of an anatomical heart, with emotional words hugging its form, explaining what she’s learned from her little sister’s heart defect.

The minimalism of the print works to its benefit, allowing the viewer to focus on its meaning. The only slightly distracting aspect of this piece is that, as the words work their way around the outer shape of the heart, rather than writing a few of them upside down as they turn a curve at the bottom right, Carpentier wrote them backward. Even though the extra concentration required to read this part of the piece causes a break from the overall affect it has, its impact is still strong.

Morgan’s piece is also an anatomical representation, but hers is entirely comprised of tiny dots made with a pen. This attention to detail is something that might have been missed by guests who were quickly scanning the art, but the fineness of “Apostomis: Skullcap” is definitely worth appreciating.

Although the opening reception to a “Celebration of Growth” had many strengths as an event, one of its weakest points was the size of the venue. Cramming so many people into such a small space gave the distinct impression that guests were to leave as soon as they had seen all of the pieces hanging in the gallery, deterring many from sticking around to find out more about the work GlobeMed does, which was part of the event’s aim.

Additionally, all of the featured pieces lack artist statements, which can often drastically enhance a guest’s experience at a gallery. In many cases, to know why an artist made the choices he or she did can bring a piece to life. In this case, all of the pieces were meant to represent some aspect of growth, but not all appeared to fit the bill, so such statements would have been particularly helpful. For example, GlobeMed Director of Communications and junior Andrea Lee’s piece “Squeeze Blood of a Turnip,” although artistically interesting to look at, seemed more to depict the death of a vegetable than its growth. The piece might have benefited from an explanation of its inclusion in the gallery.

Ultimately, GlobeMed surpassed its fundraising goal by $300. By the end of the opening reception, through a combination of personal donations, silent auction bids and artwork purchases, the group received $1,823. This event was free and open to the public, making the end result even more impressive — clearly attendants were enthralled with the event and its impetus, compelling them to support the cause.

“We definitely exceeded our fundraising goal, which was a huge victory for us,” Harding and Pal said. “With the money raised from this event, we’ll be able to fund libraries, parks and a variety of community health programs [in Iquitos].”

In the past, GlobeMed has held events such as educational movie screenings to increase awareness of global health and social justice concerns or selling beta fish to raise money for their cause, so pulling off a more interactive, community-centered event off campus was a departure for the group, but a direction they’d like to continue.

“We wanted to have a community-based event because the whole focus of our organization is community involvement and engagement,” they said. “So far, that has extended primarily to our campus community, but we are really hoping to grow into the greater Rochester community as our organization matures and strengthens.”

Sklar is a member of the class of 2014.

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