Last Friday, In a contemporary loft nestled in the heart of Old City, a chic, fashion–forward crowd gathered to sip champagne and bid on student–produced artwork. The event, simply called "Art Party" featured drinks and music at the James Oliver Gallery downtown.  Marcos Cabarcos (E'19), Emiliana Santandreu (C'19) and Paola Martorell (W'19) organized the event to raise funds for a Colombian nonprofit, Fundación 8 Abrazos. The foundation strives to support the emotional well–being of low–income children affected by leukemia and other forms of cancer.   

The gallery showcased seven student artists who work in different media from charcoal to photography. Student work was interspersed along the walls between pieces by locally based artists Ryan Beck, Miriam Singer and Jason Andrew Turner in the temporary Former Forever exhibition.

Student artist Santiago Gomez Garcia (W'19) says his paintings are heavily influenced by surrealism. "To me, dreams are more than just visions that we forget during the day,” he says. He started recording the bits and pieces that he could recall from his dreams about six years ago. “They influence us more than we realize, letting us into our aspirations and demons every night.” Santiago is often drawn to memories with his family, and finds inspiration in his Mexican roots. He works predominantly with oil on canvas, but has experimented with photography as well. A series of black and white photographs taken in Mexico City hang in the gallery, along with Garcia’s painting Shoe and a Rag which was inspired by the memory of learning how to shine shoes from his father.

Arjun Doshi (C'19) is a sophomore whose landscape and wildlife photography features vibrant colors and depicts striking scenes from his travels to London, the Amazon and regions of Croatia. Doshi strives to keep his photos as organic as possible, steering away from excessive digital editing and focusing instead on the subtle art of capturing a moment. “I try not to tamper too much with the natural aesthetic,” said Doshi. Other featured artists include Costa Rican Paulina Destarac, who focuses on photographing natural landscapes. Outside of capturing the innate beauty of a sunset, Destarac hopes to achieve storytelling through the images she captures by fine–tuning to detail.

Marcos Garcia was born in Mexico City and explored photography from a young age, beginning his pursuits with a self–purchased “cheap old Canon camera.” He credits his understanding of the craft’s subtleties to his teacher Ana Vera, who has been featured on the cover of National Geographic. Marcos Garcia emphasizes the value and freedom of pursuing his passions. Once focused on a career in Mechanical Engineering, he feels at peace with his decision to change tracks and pursue a creative challenge.

Brigitte Baella Olivieri (C'19) photographs her interest and draws inspiration spontaneously from the world around her. She manipulates images with Photoshop to distort reality. Olivieri’s project Nasty Women was inspired by famous photographer Barbara Kruger’s conceptual collages that comment on identity, sexuality and power dynamics.

Tize Valente (C'19) finds dimension, focus, freshness, color and momentum in life, and transforms these qualities into her artwork. “My imagination could be described as disturbing, even provocative,” Valente said. Her portfolio addresses pressing social issues from drug addiction to economic inequality. “I loves investigating the tension between opposites to find a balance that might be unexpected. I also tap into my passion for History, Physics and Art to understand theories and concepts so that I can transform them.”

The seventh participant in the exhibition, André Rappaccioli (E'19), exhibits that there is an art in collecting art as well. He recalls that when he was young he would watch artists show up to his home with their work, and listen to his father’s perceptions of each piece. “I think art is not only a means to self–expression, but also to cultural expression in general. So, when I came to Penn, I started collecting abstract pieces by Nicaraguan artists to keep connected to my culture.”


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