Near Westside

Show highlights aspects of community through art

Allison Clark | Contributing photographer

Students from the College of Visual and Performing Arts spend time working on art pieces as part of a weeklong travelling trade show. Art pieces are bartered off and inspired by scenes from the Near Westside.

Allison Heberling’s goblet mugs aren’t typical. The ceramic, bowl-shaped cup can be lifted from its slender base — the two items are completely separate.

Etched on the bottom of the cup is a flower, her own accent inspired by the windows of Saint Lucy’s Church in Syracuse’s Near Westside.

“It’s not a stop-and-go cup,” said Heberling, a graduate student, delicately lifting the cup from its base. “You can’t set it on the table; the two pieces go together. It makes the drink more like a ritual, more enjoyable.”

Students from Marion Wilson’s “Artist and Social Profits” class are participating in a weeklong community art show that aims to focus on the value of creativity as a commodity. 601 Tully’s “Trade Show” debuted last week and had its third of four showings on Saturday morning in a trailer tucked quietly behind Nojaim Bros. Supermarket.

Students use resources from the community around 601 Tully — mainly the Near Westside — to create works of art for everyday use that correlate with food, shelter, clothing or happiness. Community members are encouraged to create their own similar works of art and then trade them with those made by the students.

All of the show’s participants get a piece of artwork back in return.

601 Tully is a center for engaged practice developed by Wilson, an art, design and transmedia associate professor at Syracuse University. She and her students work with the Near Westside Initiative to integrate community aspects into SU visuals through public programs and classes.

The trade show took place in a large trailer, covered in colored chalk drawings. As of Saturday morning, 19 of 64 trades had taken place so far.

“People have been very fair and respectful with their trades,” said Lea Cook, a senior sculpture major. “The values of the items traded have been about equal.”

All objects were handmade, ranging from elaborate, braided necklaces to fabric flower-lined hats to glossy, bamboo chopsticks wrapped in leather. Treasures collected from visitors of the art show included art prints and hats.

One student created “moss stories,” a collection of mosses and rocks compiled beautifully together in mason jars, made of natural objects collected from the concrete parking lot on Marcellus and Wyoming streets.

Jess Scarfo, a senior art photography major, brought belt-buckle picture frames, made from removing the leather from belts collected from the Salvation Army. During Saturday morning’s showing, she began wrapping wire from the back of the buckles with pliers, creating makeshift stands for them.

“I think the frames need to stand up a bit more,” she said.

Kasey Conlon, also a senior sculpture major, decorated various felt hats, adorning the rims with cream-colored ornaments, cutout felt flowers and shiny, metallic, gage-like objects.

“It’s all about integrating the community,” she said.

The next showing for the trade art show will be on Dec. 6 from 6 to 9 p.m. at 601 Tully.

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