For adults, back-to-school time might bring memories of our own school days, when September was chock full of new classes and potential friends, not to mention supplies like rainbows of colored pens to doodle and draw with.
Many of us might remember especially looking forward to art class: maybe it was even your favorite class and teacher. Now try to imagine handing in a work of art — something you poured your heart into — and getting a bad grade on that creation from your beloved teacher.
Lambertville resident Aylin Green had that heartbreaking scenario in mind when she chose to step away from teaching student art.
Green, recently named executive director of the West Windsor Arts Council, had intended to teach after she earned a master’s degree in education (2000) from the School of the Museum of Fine Arts at Tufts University in suburban Boston. (In 1997 she had previously earned a bachelor of fine arts degree from the Mason Gross School of the Fine Arts at Rutgers University.)
This kind and creative lady was probably a terrific teacher, and would have continued along this career path, but went in another direction for various reasons.
“I have always believed in the power of education and wanted to share art with young people, and I did that for a time, but that felt kind of disconnected to me,” Green says. “There’s a contrast to museum education, where there’s a connection to the real art object.
“But also,” she adds, “I didn’t like to grade artwork by children.”
During her long tenure at Grounds For Sculpture in various roles — most recently as director of membership — she was able to infuse her enthusiasm for arts education into her job. However, since Green came on board at the West Windsor Arts Council, her fervor for helping all age groups in the community to better understand and love the arts has kicked into high gear.
“I thought, ‘this could be a really great opportunity to extend my interest in creating artistic communities, connecting people to the arts through a local venue,’” Green says. “I love the way this art center was working on a grass roots level, that’s it’s small but growing, and already providing so much opportunity to the area, helping the community to appreciate the arts as well as supporting local artists. The position intrigued me and I thought, ‘this could be a good fit.’”
Although the show had already been planned, Green is pleased to be involved with the exhibition, “Photo-Transformations,” running through Saturday, November 7.
This summer, the WWAC invited photographers and all kinds of visual artists to try a twist on straightforward photography exhibitions. “Photo-Transformations” features photographs that have been re-worked or manipulated by physical alteration, technology, or through blending and utilizing other media.
In other words, the original works have been collaged, painted upon, or overlaid with other media — anything the artist may have chosen to explore their individual vision. The original photograph will be hung next to the finished photo-transformation, so viewers can enjoy the contrast and reflect on the transformative techniques.
The show was juried by Kate Saik and Susan Mack, who own K&S Studio, a full-service commercial photography studio in Trenton.
“It’s a nice concept, and we saw some really interesting (work) coming in,” Green says. “But I knew I wanted to expand on our programming that supports the exhibition schedule, so we’ve put together two classes taught by Sandra Davis, who teaches at Mercer County Community College and is a master lecturer at the University of the Arts (in Philadelphia). They’ll be on alternative photography processes — encaustics and collage and a Van Dyke Brown printing class.”
Beginning Saturday, October 3, for two Saturday afternoons, Davis will teach a mini-course on Van Dyke Brown Printing, where students will learn a processes that combine traditional photographic techniques with a variety of media to create images. Through printing in a hand-applied experimental technique, participants will gain a better understanding of the origins of the art of photography. Students will also become more aware of the photographic options beyond traditional photographic and digital printing.
In addition to the classes in collaboration with the “Photo-Transformations” exhibit, Green has planned a panel discussion at the West Windsor Arts Center on Wednesday, October 14, at 7:15 p.m.
“We’ll have a panel discussion including the jurors and some of the artists,” Green says. “This kind of expanded programming extends what’s happening in the gallery, and it’s just the kind of thing the board was looking for.”
The WWAC will also present its annual family-friendly event on Sunday afternoon, October 18, at Nassau Park Pavilion off Route 1 South. “Autumn Arts Afternoon” is a free, all-ages, and rain-or-shine event, with a variety of arts activities planned, live music, as well as a painting demonstration by Trenton-based muralist and graffiti artist Leon Rainbow.
“I’ve only been here (at the WWAC) a short time, so there’s still a lot of work,” Green says. “I’ve been reaching out to the community to get more input, to understand what they’re looking for, what they’d like to see for the future direction of the arts council. We also have the potential for expansion in our building, so we’ll be really reaching out in a more concerted way.”
Green, who was born and raised in the suburbs of Boston, recalls being the kind of kid who was forever filling notebooks with her artwork, “just constantly drawing,” she says.
Both parents were in the medical profession — her father was a family doctor with his own practice, and her mother was a registered nurse — and they nurtured Green’s love for art.
“My parents didn’t discourage me, but I didn’t think of art as a possible career,” Green says. “I remember my art classes at school and going to museums, like the Isabella Stewart Gardner Museum in Boston. I was really taken with the courtyard and the variety of work on view there. Art was always a big part of my life, but until college, I hadn’t studied the more contemporary art movements. Then at Mason Gross I began to learn about Dada (and such), and I was really excited about it all.”
A bustling career as an arts administrator and educator, as well as a busy personal life raising two sons, hasn’t kept Green from her own creativity in a variety of media. In fact, she has a solo show of new work coming up at Trenton Social on South Broad Street, with an opening on Friday, October 2.
“It’s the type of work I tend to do when I am not thinking too much, so it’s more intuitive and playful,” Green says. “I’ve been amassing it, so I thought I’d give it a chance out in the world. Trenton Social is a nice space, and there’s always a monthly art show; it’s a nice mix of people, and the place has supportive owners.”
For many years, Green has also been involved in the AbOminOg International Arts Collective, and will probably be involved again if and when the group has its annual Iron Pour at Grounds For Sculpture. Some of her own works in iron and bronze incorporate the form of a pillow covered with crochet or lace, and the final product is an intriguing juxtaposition of softness and hardness.
“People often don’t expect an artist to do so much — painting, sculpture, arts administration, so many different things,” Green says. “Sometimes people also wonder about timing, like, ‘how and where do you find the time for all this,’ and I think if you have that drive and desire, you find a way to make it happen. It’s sort of a mantra like, ‘just do it,’ keep going, get it done, and don’t worry about the ‘shoulds.’”
“I have this creative side and also a business side; these are two sides of my personality and each makes me better at the other,” she adds. “I see things creatively, but I am also organized. The work I do in arts administration supports my personal interest in seeing artists flourish. There would be no art without artists, so you really have to nurture the artists.”
Photo Transformations, West Windsor Arts Center, 952 Alexander Road (the Historic Princeton Junction Firehouse), Princeton Junction. Through Saturday, November 7. On view Monday through Friday, 10 a.m. to 6 p.m.; Saturday, 10 a.m. to 4 p.m.
Photo-Transformations Artist Panel Discussion, West Windsor Arts Center. Wednesday, October 14, 7:15 p.m. Artists Rory Mahon, Tasha Doremus, Kimberly Ducote-Schimmel, and Rochana Dubey will discuss ideas and processes related to the works on display. Aylin Green moderates.
Autumn Arts Afternoon, Nassau Park Pavilion (Nassau Park Boulevard between Target and Panera Bread), off Route 1 South in West Windsor. Sunday, October 18, 1 to 4 p.m. Live painting demos with artist Leon Rainbow, plywood sculpture painting, drop and draw, instrument petting zoo with the Princeton Symphony Orchestra, and more. Free. Rain or shine.
Exquisite Blend, West Windsor Arts Center. Sunday, November 1, 2 to 5 p.m. Film event showcases two documentaries on the nearly 2,000-year-old Bene Israel community of India: “Blue Like Me” by artist Siona Benjamin and “In Search of the Bene Israel” by film maker, Sadia Shepard. The screenings will be preceded by a reception for sponsors and followed by a question/answer session with Benjamin, $10 to $12. 609-716-1931 or www.westwindsorartscenter.org.
Aylin Green Solo Show, Trenton Social, 449 South Broad Street, Trenton. Opens Friday, October 2. 609-989-7777 or www.aylingreen.com.