By Diana Nelson
Buses, towers, busy streets and a smiling homeless man were on display at Fordham’s Bronx art gallery, filled with student art and photos that highlight the sometimes forgotten beauty of the beloved borough. Students and faculty celebrated the newest McGinley Art Gallery installation titled “The Beautiful Bronx,” gathering on the terrace for its opening night on Wednesday. The gallery featured 21 works of art, including 19 photographs, one painting and one drawing representing the diverse area in which the university resides.
According to Fordham’s United Student Government (USG) Vice President of Student Life Peter Vergara, FCRH ‘18, the idea for “The Beautiful Bronx” is based off of “Humans of Fordham,” the theme of last year’s gallery, which was inspired by the blog and best-selling book, Humans of New York. USG put effort into making this year’s gallery beneficial for students and the community. Vergara worked together with the house committee to decide on this year’s theme.
“Our job is to give the student body what they want to see through this art show,” said Vergara. Of two contending themes, including ‘Unique New York,’ and ‘The Beauty of the Bronx,” Vergara found the latter to be more personal to Fordham students. “Based on the prominent number of commuter students we have, the engagement we have with the Bronx and the general student body we have on campus, we decided to go with ‘The Beautiful Bronx’ and get students to share the art that they’ve created around the Bronx itself,” he said.
USG also made additions to the newest gallery based on increased student interest.
“The biggest thing we added is the gallery opening,” Vegara said. “We added it because of the number of submissions we had asking about the gallery. It gives us an opportunity to get together to talk about the works and what they mean for the artists and the community as a whole.
USG has also added more smaller pictures to feature more students, Vergara acknowledged. 32 submissions total were narrowed down to 21 works.
In the middle of all 21 works sits “The Nomad,” a blurred photograph of a homeless man smiling on a bench, taken by Ian Roden, FCRH ’18.
“Two of my photographs are included in the gallery and I’m very excited they got blown up and put on display,” said Roden. “One of them I didn’t expect them to pick at all, but I just got super lucky with the shot. It came out pretty cool. He was just smiling when I took the picture. I just got this ominous vibe from him that he knew something that we didn’t,”
“The other one,” he added, ‘Mother Citrus,’ is a lady picking oranges and it’s very vibrant. It picks out some of the loud sounds and colors the Bronx is known for.”
Yancy Carrasco, GSB ’16 is another student artist featured. Growing up in Yonkers, NY, Carrasco has been in and out of the Bronx his whole life. He has four photographs in the gallery, including “The Parkway” and “Highbridge Water Tower,” which were taken over seven years ago.
“Each of the photos were both shot from a moving vehicle, Carrasco said. “I take the photo when I see something inspiring or something that I don’t normally see,” said Carrasco.
Carrasco took over 100 photos but thought the four on display were more representative of what I was looking for.
“The beauty of the Bronx was as strong then as it is now,” he said.
His inspiration for his photography stems from his appreciation of the community he has spent so much time in. Carrasco discussed how he feels that the Bronx’s beauty is often overlooked.
“There’s a lot of themes and places that a lot of people don’t think about. Some of the photos I have are of school buses and water towers,” he said. “These are gems of the boroughs that I feel need a little more exposure. We think of the Bronx as this poor, congressional district that often times is troubled. But it’s a place of great attitude, great people and individuals of all various backgrounds,” said Carrasco. “And hopefully these photos kind of show people it’s more than what they see on the news, or what they may read on occasion in a book or an article — but this place of beauty that has so much potential.
Caroline Quon, FCRH ’16, also uses photography as a creative outlet and is inspired by her surroundings. Her photograph, “Fordham Plaza In-Progress,” was taken in March and features the construction of the new Fordham Plaza.
“This was just when I was walking across the street to get coffee, and I thought it was a very interesting perspective to see people walking across and seeing the construction of the Fordham Plaza and the development of how beautiful it will be,” said Quon. “Photography is definitely a hobby for me. Once I got into college and was doing more science classes, I needed some kind of outlet to continue expressing my artist inspiration and what I see as beautiful on my commute. I definitely think Fordham should have more of these galleries, because anyone can participate in these great events.”
Despite the positive feedback of “The Beautiful Bronx” from students and artists, there were some suggested improvements for future galleries. Jomer Roman, GSB ’18, observed the gallery with his friends.
“It’s a nice little social event. It would be cool if they expand on it a little and just have more photos and works, because I feel like a lot of people might have submitted work and they just couldn’t go through with the limited space they had,” said Roman. “But, I am very much looking forward to the next gallery.”