Alfred University News

‘Won’t You Be My Neighbor’ brings together artists, art students and the Alfred community

“Won’t You Be My Neighbor?” – a collaborative community-based art exhibition – is on view at the Cohen Gallery on Main Street through Oct. 4.

ALFRED, NY – “Won’t You Be My Neighbor?” – a collaborative community-based art exhibition – is on view at the Cohen Gallery on Main Street through Oct. 4.

The exhibition, organized by curators and Alfred University alumni artists Michael Bernard Stevenson Jr. ’11 and Cassandra Bull ’16, opened Aug. 22 and will remain on view through Oct. 4. An opening reception is scheduled for Friday, Aug. 30, from 5-8 p.m.

Organizers say “Won’t You Be My Neighbor?” aims to “break down the divide between Alfred University/Alfred State College and Alfred community members through the making of art.” The concept of the exhibition was conceived by Stevenson, who along with Bull regard their college experiences as being significantly enhanced and molded by interacting with residents beyond the academic structure. Stevenson and Bull both earned BFA degrees from Alfred University.

“Won’t You Be My Neighbor?” pairs current Allegany county residents with art students or recently graduated artists practicing in the Alfred region.

In mid-April and early June Stevenson, Bull, and Cohen Gallery Director Caitlin Brown hosted three events to kick off their curatorial plan. The first event was called “A Gathering of Artists,” in which Stevenson and Bull introduced their idea with their prospective team of artists.

At the second event, entitled “A Gathering of Neighbors,” they presented a four-course meal to community members at the Union University Church Center in Alfred. Stevenson, Bull and Brown then worked together to develop pairs of “neighbors” based on their personality traits.

The third event entitled “A Shaking of Hands,” took place during the Makers on Main Street event held during Alfred University Reunion in early June. During this event, artists and community members were introduced and from there the project was launched.

Throughout the summer, over 50 paired community members and artists spent time forming relationships, together sharing stories, learning about each other’s lives, and ultimately coming to regard each other as friends and neighbors. The artists created artworks collaboratively about/with/for their new “neighbor” which commemorate the summer experience. The artwork is now on display at the Cohen Gallery.

Throughout the course of the exhibition, ancillary programs will be presented in Alfred and at the Cohen Gallery, including a community farm-to-table cooking event, field trips, community discussions, a creek walk, an historical lecture, artist talks, an ice cream social and more, all designed to tell the story of Alfred and to deepen the connections within our overlapping communities. Gallery visitors will have the opportunity to take part in this project during gallery open hours: Tuesday through Friday, 11 a.m. to 5 p.m.; Thursday from 11 a.m. to 7 p.m.; and Saturday and Sunday, noon to 4 p.m.

This exhibition has been generously supported by Nicholas Dosch, Andrea and John Gill, and the Career Development Center, Alfred Foundations, the Division of Sculpture and Dimensional Studies and the Division of Expanded Media, all at Alfred University.