By Shannon N. Alomar
“A lot of artists work with just one medium; whether it’s just wood, steel, cardboard or whatever. But with me, my mind is all over the place… I wanted to have this, my first show, represent everything that I am. You’re going to get recycled material in my show. You’re going to get wood in my show. You’re going to get clay, hardens, you’re going to get glazes. You’re going to see how hard I worked on my show,” said Matt Aponte, senior industrial design major, at the opening of his art show entitled “Design Language.”
One of the standout pieces in the room was the “Spine” created with discarded clothing hangers from the H&M he works at currently. Aponte’s sculpture hangs from the low-ceiled gallery room where he presented his works. The reason he used hangers to help build his sculpture was to represent his love of fashion, shopping, clothes and retail. Normally after hangers appear to be broken in the store, the staff’s first instinct is the throw them away, but Aponte recognized that they were not really broken; they were just waiting to be used by someone who was willing to put them back together.
According to Aponte, he made “Spine” two years ago while trying to decide whether he wanted to switch majors. Originally, he studied biology and wanted to become a surgeon, but after a while, he realized the studying within that field was not what he was looking for.
Afterwards, he moved onto physical therapy and working with student athletics, which he said he really had a love for, but the paperwork could never stabilize his footing within that possible career path. Finally, he found and fell in love with industrial design and with the help of his mentor, Professor Alex Roskin, Aponte plans to graduate in May 2015 with a degree that reflects what he truly loves to do.
Classmates, friends, family and administrators gathered around near the FORM Gallery at Hofstra University’s student exhibition room for Aponte’s art show on Monday, Nov. 10. Not only did his impromptu and from-the-heart speech give the audience an insight into every element of each piece, but his pieces also served as the FORM Gallery’s first furniture specific showcase.
The meaning behind the name “Design Language” actually came from a book Roskin gave Aponte when he first started his journey with his current major. The book focused on the terminology used and known by artists and Aponte wanted to use that same philosophy and give those definitions a physical representation through his various artworks.
As you walk into the reserved space, you cannot help but imagine being in a cozy room – possibly within your own home – completely furnished with artsy furniture pieces crafted for a specific purpose and vision in mind.
“I wanted the space to feel homey, almost reminding you of a dorm room or studio apartment… as people, you know, people only physically see you. People only look at you for what they can see. They don’t know your secrets. They don’t know what goes on at home. They don’t know what goes on at school. They don’t know what struggle you’re going through. That’s why [for the presentation] I wanted that real dim light because you have to look very closely to see what’s really going on,” Aponte said.
This intimate experience with Aponte’s collection is what drew the people of the audience to do double-takes at his furniture and even get closer to uncover what a particular work’s function really consisted of.
“My friend and I literally went garbage picking to find different pieces of material I could use in my show. [One] man’s garbage is another man’s treasure, and that’s the motto for the things in my show as well,” Aponte said.
Throughout the show, Aponte gave special shout outs to those who really helped him throughout the creation phase of his show including Roosevelt Smith Jr., Interim Director of the New Opportunities at Hofstra (NOAH) Program.
“NOAH is my scholarship program I am in and without my dean Mr. Smith, I would not have even been at Hofstra right now doing what I love,” Aponte said.
Aponte’s show was not just a presentation of art but a metaphor for his life. One of his hardest pieces was making the wooden stool that sat proudly in the middle of the floor in the room. He described how he had to go against the grain of the wood to create the stool and how he constantly has had to go against the grain in his actual life. The struggle in creating his final product showed the struggle he has went through at Hofstra, but just like the stool, he has come out of his hardships polished, functional and still evolved.
From the bench made from once-termite-infested wood, to the plastic bag chair he was inspired to recreate from a Tumblr post he saw, to the tentacle-hanger hooks holding a grey scarf, to the huge portrait of the man-of-the-hour hanging proudly in the middle of the room, Aponte definitely excelled in putting on a exhibition that he was proud to have been able to speak at and explain to the audience what they were experiencing.
In the back of the room, near his counter-top table, a clear casing held photographs of him working on his pieces throughout days leading up to the show. The picture created a timeline and a clearer visual of the work behind the masterpieces.
When asked what was next for the young up-and-coming artist he simply answered, “Wherever life takes me next I am willing to go as long as I am able to do what I love while bringing my art to the world.”
To learn more about Aponte and his piece head to Facebook.com/matt.aponte