The Hippo


May 27, 2020








Stephen Godlieb, a graduating senior at the New Hampshire Institute of Art. Kelly Sennott photo.

See the 2014 BFA Student Exhibition

When: On view now through June 15
Where: The Lowell Street Gallery, 88 Lowell St., Manchester; The French Building Gallery, 148 Concord St., Manchester; and the Roger Williams Studios Building (formerly the Amherst Street Gallery), 77 Amherst St., Manchester

Culminating works
NHIA BFA Student Exhibition

By Kelly Sennott

 The Red String of Fate legend says that we are all connected to our destined lover through an unbreakable invisible red thread tied at our pinkies, placed there by a god while we slept.

This thread is also what connects the photography by recent New Hampshire Institute of Art grad Natasha Dominguez, which is on view at the school’s annual BFA Student Exhibition in downtown Manchester now through June 15. The thread trails over a dinner table, through a stack of books, around the wrist of an outdoor statue and through snowy wilderness. Two hands hold it all together.
“I thought it was a romantic and hopeful idea, to connect it all together,” Dominguez said in a phone interview weeks after the exhibition preview party May 17. 
For this month only, the Amherst Street, Lowell Street and French buildings display art not just in their respective galleries, but also in the classrooms that, during the rest of the year, are caked with paint, clay, sculpture, and in-progress work.
The transformation is quite amazing, senior faculty fellow and chairperson of the fine art department Patrick McCay said during a walk through the buildings. The paint, the clay, the brushes and easels disappeared in favor of clean walls and floors, picture frames and newly completed fine art, abstract, photography, ceramics, illustration, creative writing and graphic design collections.
“We teach skills, but at the end of the day, we want the individual creative voice to show through here,” McCay said. 
The art is the culminating project for the graduating seniors. The exhibition opened May 17 with a reception that comprised more than 500 visitors and more than $14,000 worth of student work purchased. A little red booklet of Red String of Fate images was among the sold art.
“I’ve always been drawn to nontraditional ways of presenting photographs. I tried to steer clear of the matted and framed way, and I wanted to come up with something different,” Dominguez said.
“Different” is one word that could be used to describe the multi-building show that exhibits collections by recent graduates. On one wall, you’ll find picturesque New Hampshire landscapes, portrayed in photographs and oil paints. On another, you’ll find abstract scenes and character sketches, some of which are accompanied by stories written by the students. 
Another word is “dense;” it took a year’s worth of Fridays and hundreds of photos for Dominguez to get her collection just right.
For most students, some 3 a.m. nights went into the making, too, in hopes to profess what they’ve learned, but also to sell their first pieces. One student, Nathan Ward, sold $3,000 worth of art; his paintings blend realism and abstraction and tell of the coastal Maine sailing and fishing life.
The school has grown immensely these past 10 years; when McCay started, there were fewer than 50 full-time students and just four full-time faculty members, he said during the tour. Now there are more than 400 students, many of whom travel across the country to study here.
We stopped at Stephen Godlieb’s collection of work, comprised of oil portraits. One very large painting displays a blonde, unhappy-looking woman, made in response to the goings-on in Ukraine. Another is a portrait of one of Godlieb’s favorite painters from L.A., Justin Bua. He’s sold both for $1,000 apiece.
Godlieb is originally from Indonesia. His father’s job moved their family to the United States in 2004, to Dover in 2008. 
“This school has really helped me to get to where I want to be,” Godlieb said in an interview at the gallery. “I feel really proud — I’ve been working so hard on these paintings, and selling them has motivated me to keep working, and to not stop there.”
Though he already has a job in his field — he works as a graphic designer for Jewel Nightclub in Manchester — he still paints for himself in the very late hours, even though he’s through with school.
Dominguez, too, is looking to continue with her photography, but also with an online art magazine she’s developing for emerging artists called The Unexposed. The exhibition has given her a sense of confidence that wasn’t as pronounced before.
“The turnout for the show was just incredible,”  said Dominguez, who lives in Raymond. “It’s amazing to be able to stand in front of your work and talk with the people who just live down the road …  and to hear that they’re impressed by my work. … It was a really great experience.” 
As seen in the June 5, 2014 issue of the Hippo.

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