Spending five to six hours a day in the basement of Huber Art Center tapping into her artistic side, art must pulsate through the veins of senior art major Alessandra Cupani. Coming from a family of artists, it may be safe to say this is the case for Cupani.
The art exhibition by Cupani “Portraits: A Concept” is currently featured in Huber Art Center’s Brindle Art Gallery. The exhibition will remain open to the public through Thursday within gallery hours, and features six oil painting portraits — only a portion of Cupani’s entire 18-piece portrait collection.
“This isn’t my first exhibition,” Cupani said. Her artwork has been shown in galleries five times since she has started her education at Shippensburg University. One of those galleries was her senior showcase this past December.
Although she has had her artwork under the scrutiny of the public on multiple occasions, the sense of vulnerability that accompanies putting her work out there is something that Cupani has yet to overcome.
“It’s intimidating to show my work to someone who has no insight on why I constructed my pieces the way I did,” Cupani said. “I think that everyone has their own ideas as to how something should look, and my stylistic choices may appear out in left field to them.”
Alice Neel, an American visual artist from Gladwyne, Pennsylvania, is Cupani’s primary visual muse for her artwork. Cupani admires Neel’s disregard of realistic proportions and convention, and her inventive approaches and techniques. Hyperrealism is a style that Cupani enjoys incorporating in her work, as well. Each portrait is subjective and unconventional in the sense that it is not a lifelike image of an individual. But, at the same time, it is detailed enough to be an identifiable person.
Cupani’s artwork does branch away from Neel’s. Cupani discretely integrates underlying themes that are significant to her into her artwork. She also finds artistic vision in situations and emotions that she was exposed to in her personal life.
“My sister got really sick a year ago,” Cupani said, “and I tried to create these portraits in a way that personified how her physicality was an entirely different image than the image that she saw when she looked in the mirror.”
Cupani thinks the theme portrayed in her collection is important for college students in particular to keep in mind. She also encourages them to strive to come to terms with their self-image, as it is a reoccurring problem that many struggle with.
“I hope to have my works communicate how one feels on inside, rather than what is reflected on the outside — whether it be age, disability or any other external factor,” Cupani said.
Art has played a significant part in Cupani’s life since she was a young girl, and has only amplified as she got older.
“My dad was an oil painter,” Cupani said. “So I grew up with art. When we went out to eat when I was younger, I would always doodle on napkins. I was always doodling or doing something artsy.”
However, with time, creativity and a soon-to-be degree in art, her doodles have transformed into masterpieces.
“I’ve definitely grown as an artist since I first started here at Ship,” Cupani said. “I learned that your work ethic really does translate into a smoother process and an amplified final project.”
Cupani is excited to see what art leads her to after graduation and hopes to continue to expand her knowledge in art with graduate studies.
“I’ve applied to some grad schools such as Pratt Institute of Art in NYC, Maryland Institute College of Art in Baltimore and IUP to further my studies in art and oil painting and absorb and apply the new knowledge and techniques that I will learn along the way.”