At the end of the school year last spring, the St. John’s Art Department held its Annual Student Exhibit on campus at the former Chung Cheng Gallery in Sun Yat Sen Hall. It was there that senior Eirenee Jacobs, fine arts major, displayed part of her Ship Series that she spent much time on last year and continues to work on now.
Her works at the exhibit won Jacobs the “Best in Show” award and her pieces can be seen now on display in the basement of St. John’s Hall.
The large prints are transfixing images. Though tangible, they are often times indiscernible and seemingly infinite expanses of metal works.
“All of the pictures were taken aboard the TS Empire State, a training ship docked at Maritime College in Brooklyn,” Jacobs said. “I spent a day aboard the ship taking digital pictures down within the bowels of the ship: of the steam system, generators and turbines.”
Later, with the help of Professor DiGena, she worked on attaining an intricate, gritty look, by overlaying images and adjusting opaqueness, contrast, brightness, saturation, and temperature.
In doing so the images have taken on a look of beautiful mystery. As the colors and shapes begin to take effect before your eyes, Jacobs keeps you comfortably and continuously guessing at the well-organized jumbles.
“When I showed some of the cadets at Maritime, some of them had difficulty in determining where on the ship certain pictures had been taken,” Jacobs said.
They must have liked what they saw, because they asked her to come back and show the images over the summer break.
If the tremendous mix of color from the rusted pipes, levers and handles do not grab your attention, the size of the prints definitely will.
“The size was important to me because I had always worked small, I wanted to grab the attention of the viewer,” Jacobs said. And the largeness gives the series a depth that allows for the viewer to stand and take in the entirety of each piece. The entreating images ask you for your time and concentration; they ask you stare. It is the feeling of the Pollack observer that Jacobs is striving for, that feeling of prolonged observance.
Famed photographer Dorthea Lange once said that a camera is tool that helps people see without a camera, and Jacobs feels the same way about her work.
“Seeing things for the first time, isn’t that the purpose of art after all? To see things that you see every day and make the viewer look at it in a new way?”
At present time, Eirenee is creating monotypes of the pictures to make prints and possibly use in paintings.
Her display in St. John’s hall ends on September 24, but she has a piece on display all semester long at the St. John’s Manhattan campus.