New Sculpture and Memorial Gallery Exhibit Bring Beauty and Charm to Campus 

On September 28, 2023, members of the Farmingdale State College (FSC) campus community gathered between the School of Business and Whitman Hall for an inaugural ribbon cutting for public art on FSC's Great Mall.  

The event was followed by an art lecture in Gleeson Hall room 104, given by internationally recognized, multidisciplinary artist and sculptor Donald Gerola and his partner, mixed media artist Claire Lacoste Kapstein. An artist reception was also held in FSC’s Memorial Gallery for The Balance of Unbalance, a survey of works by both Rhode Island-based artists. The gallery exhibition will be on view from September 15 to November 13, 2023.  

Pray Mantis 

Pray Mantis, a brightly colored, kinetic sculpture by Gerola, stands 16.5 feet high, 22 feet long, and weighs approximately 1,600 pounds. 

“We are proud to be a place that recognizes and honors artwork that adds so much to our campus and indeed so much to our society,” said John S. Nader, PhD, president of FSC, at the ribbon cutting event. 

“Public art and sculpture play a vital role in enriching the college campus and its surrounding community,” said Beth Giacummo, Memorial Gallery director and curator. “I believe that these artistic installations serve as both educational tools and sources of inspiration. They provide students with opportunities for intellectual and aesthetic engagement, fostering creativity, critical thinking, and a deeper understanding of culture and history.” 

According to Gerola, Pray Mantis evokes two qualities. “One, being the gorgeous little creature that protects a lovely garden from invasive insects, and two, it evokes qualities of a contemporary weathervane designed to take strong winds in a delicate way. 

“This universal and timeless piece celebrates people and the space,” said Gerola. “You have the most beautiful campus here. Your campus invites people.”  

“The inherent juxtaposition within Gerola's works is accentuated by his choice of A36 steel as a medium,” said Giacummo. “The industrial rawness of the material is juxtaposed with the elegant and calculated designs.” 

“It’s an unforgiving material to work with. It’s the material that bridges and buildings are made of,” said Gerola, who has a background in engineering and physics. “But I’m not scared of the weight. I make it look light and lovely.”  

The Balance of Unbalance 

The Balance of Unbalance gallery exhibition celebrates and explores the work of Gerola and Lacoste Kapstein, which includes steel sculptures, abstract paintings, collages on wood panels, landscape design, and Cosmic Garlic, a series of mixed media works by Lacoste Kapstein.  

“Everything I do is a miniature land,” said Lacoste Kapstein, 67, who is known for the many personal touches she adds to her pieces. “It’s my own world. Since I was a little girl in France, I was cutting and making collage. I grew up in the garden. I started painting and then did fashion work, where I collected textiles. Throughout my work, I use embroidery, lace and sewing and many botanical elements like garlic, leaves, and flowers. I use everything.”   

“In this exhibition viewers will see individual works by each artist side by side, where the symbiotic influence and inspiration they share with each other come to life,” said Giacummo. Their partnership in art and life becomes seamless.” 

During the lecture, Gerola, 74, who grew up in New Jersey, touched on adverse childhood experiences and personal challenges that he turned into successful opportunities. He described how a storm flooding his Edgewater, New Jersey gallery inspired his popular sand fresco painting technique.  

“The water was pouring in and of course being unconventional, my gallery floor was two tons of hourglass sand,” he said. “As we are trying to stop the water from coming in, I started to realize, ‘this is so cool--all the shapes the water is making.’ It was exciting.  

“When you come into a crisis in your life, it’s a shock, but look at it as a blessing,” he said. “Because it is a pivotal point. It’s a chance to open a door.”   

For more information, please visit The Balance of Unbalance webpage 

View more photos from the Pray Mantis ribbon cutting event on our Flickr Gallery.