Artist puts worries on display at Salem State

Robert Siegelman’s ‘Do You Worry A lot?’ gallery at the Winfisky Gallery at Salem State University in Salem, Mass., on February 3, 2017. Socres of people turned out for the artists’s gallery talk.

SALEM, Mass., Feb. 3, 2017 — Robert Siegelman’s gallery talk for his exhibit “Do You Worry A lot?” at the Winfisky Gallery at Salem State University drew in an audience of about 40 people. The crowd was a blend of friends, professors, and students.

The gallery displayed work of Siegelman’s internal chaos. His drawings consisted of nude models incorporated with personal worries, such as being a gay man in America — a country that usually stands for unity.

He portrayed these worries with color, lines, shapes, and additional abstract figures. Some creative accidents even made the cut.

His drawings of nude men and women were based on models posing for a figure drawing group in South Boston. What makes his work unique is that he draws what he feels and not what he sees.

“Things are not what they seem. Things we may believe at one time, becomes decontextualized by the passing of time, and its exposure of the relevant characters,” Siegelman said.

Siegelman added that he always felt a connection when drawing models or using figures in his exhibit.

A striking part of the exhibit, which stirred up conversation and laughter between the crowd and the artist, was the display of two books in the middle of the drawings pinned to the wall.

Robert Siegelman listening to audience member’s question on February 3, 2017. Students, faculty and friends turned out to the Salem State gallery in Salem, Mass., to hear the artist speak.

The two books were Bill Cosby’s Love and Marriage, which was written in 1980, and Julian May’s book Man and Woman, written in 1979. Both books are based on heterosexual couples.

“I have not read either of these books. Neither are newly published,” Siegelman said. “For me they represent ideas of objects that are fascinating to look at, and for some may bring back memories, but are full of outdated ideas.”

The books’ purpose in this gallery challenged the idea of what society thinks represents a perfect couple.

The notion of romance only being between man and woman has grown to be outdated; just like the books in Siegelman’s display.

“Love and Marriage” by Bill Cosby and “Man and Woman: Annotated Teacher’s Edition” by Julian May on display in the gallery during the “Do you worry a lot?” exhibit at Salem State University in Salem, Mass., on February 3, 2017.

There were several portrait photographs that Siegelman took of gay men that were pinned in the corner of the room. This represented gay men being “in the closet” and feeling marginalized.

“There are still so many younger and older people that live in families and communities that don’t recognize and support those who seem different,” Siegelman said.

Ken Reker, artist and professor at Salem State University, selected to pick Robert Siegelman’s gallery because of his sense of humor.

When selecting special guests for events like this in the creative arts department, the criteria is based on relevance and availability according to Karen Gahagan, Creative Arts Director of Salem State University.

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