By Irina Rusanova
A new gallery has emerged on campus in place of the former Saint Vincent Gallery that closed in fall 2019. Located in the recently renovated Dale P. Latimer Library, the Verostko Center for the Arts spans 9,000 square feet and is dedicated to contemporary art exhibitions and displaying works from Saint Vincent’s permanent collections.
Andrew Julo, director of the Verostko Center for the Arts and curator of the Saint Vincent Art & Heritage Collections, said that students aided in transporting these items into the new gallery.
“With the tremendous assistance of student workers, we were able to safely package and relocate the 4,000 works that form the Saint Vincent Art & Heritage Collections to a newly-expanded facility inside the Dale P. Latimer Library,” Julo said.
Apart from art exhibitions, Julo mentioned multiple other benefits the improved gallery provides, including a climate-controlled storage environment for artwork, a video viewing room, and dedicated space for Saint Vincent’s rare book collection.
“The Verostko Center for the Arts nearly triples the amount of space dedicated to exhibitions on campus,” Julo said, adding that “Saint Vincent's collection of rare books now has a dedicated reading room for researchers as well as climate-controlled storage with compacting shelving for codices that range from the medieval to the modern.”
The art center dropped its original name, Saint Vincent Gallery, in spring 2019, becoming the Verostko Center for the Arts. The renewed center received this name in honor of internationally recognized artist and educator Roman Verostko, a Saint Vincent College graduate and former monk of Saint Vincent Archabbey who is known for his revolutionary contributions to the algorithmic art movement, in which artists use computer coding to render art. The gallery holds the world’s largest collection of this artist’s masterpieces.
“By writing original algorithms intended for artmaking purposes, Verostko helped to pave the way for future generations of artists who use the computer as an extension of their creative practice,” Julo explained. “It is fitting then that the Verostko Center for the Arts pays tribute to a prolific artist by featuring exhibitions and programming that investigate the nexus of intersecting disciplines.”
Verostko’s art has been exhibited before on campus in the former Saint Vincent Gallery. Other gifted and commissioned art by Verostko also appears around campus, including “The Upsidedown Mural” art installation in the Fred Rogers Center and the “I am the Way, the Truth, and the Life” mural in Latimer Library.
On Sept. 16, the center released a post on its Instagram, which announced the upcoming release of a video interview with Verostko.
“We conducted an interview with [the artist] that will later be made into a short film and shared online that explores his life as a monk at Saint Vincent, the evolution of his career as an artist and educator, influences, and his pursuit of an art of ‘pure form,’” Julo noted.
The interview marks the mounting of the exhibition, “Roman Verostko and the Cloud of Unknowing.” Verostko has explained the concept of the “Cloud of Unknowing” in the past.
“Since 1968 my own spiritual pathway has traveled outside of established faith traditions, and I have embraced my experience of life without ultimate answers,” Verostko wrote in his essay, “The Cloud of Unknowing: From Ideas in Mind to Ideas in Code.” He continued, “This ‘living within a kind of question mark’ sometimes leads to experience that may be likened to an encounter with the cloud of unknowing.”
Verostko related his art to this concept, further revealing the nature of the exhibit.
“In a similar way my artwork, in all its phases, explores form-making ideas that often lead us to experience the inexplicable. While I can explain the coded procedures for generating the art, my experience of the art transcends the explainable.”
Alongside this exhibition of Verostko’s work, the gallery has two other exhibitions on show for fall 2020, titled “Royal Patronage: Selections from the King Ludwig I of Bavaria Gift” and “Arrayed in Gold: Icons from the Anna and Tadeusz Kozminski Collection.”
The art center is presently only open to students who are currently attending the college, faculty, staff, and Saint Vincent’s monastic community.
“As a venture of the College, we abide by the safety protocols currently in place that aim to keep our on-campus community as healthy possible,” Julo explained. “We are following recommendations on behalf of public health officials who have consistently warned against large gatherings. We would like to welcome off campus guests and host a formal dedication of the Center once the COVID-19 pandemic subsides.”
The library and the art center dedications that were originally planned for spring 2020, as well as the Threshold Lecture featuring Douglass Dodds, the Victoria and Albert Museum’s curator, and a panel discussion with Verostko, have been postponed.
“In the future, we anticipate holding film screenings, artist demonstrations, and mindful meditation in the galleries,” Julo said. “Now with expanded space, flexible LED lighting, and high ceilings, we're able to exhibit more items that have been rarely seen. I am looking forward to exhibiting some 18th- and 19th-century European etchings, Chinese jade netsuke, Zairian animal carvings, and a mountain landscape painting by Charles Craig this spring.”
At the moment, SVC-affiliated students and personnel may visit the gallery on Thursdays from 4:00 to 8:00 p.m. and on Fridays from 9:00 a.m. to 4:00 p.m.
“Come by to check out the exhibitions, find a moment of quiet, relax, or gain inspiration for your own creative work,” Julo urged.
More information about the center, its namesake, and its construction is available at the gallery Instagram (handle verostko_center), Verostko’s artist website (verostko.com), and at the gallery website (verostkocenter.org).