Friday, April 24, 2009

Art Student Arranges Cover Art for Book by Spanish Author

Beth Halem never expected that a painting she created more than two years ago, during her sophomore year at SUNY Cortland, would be the cover art for a Spanish academic book.

Halem, of Roslyn, N.Y., a senior art and art history major, was approached by Professor of Spanish Wesley Weaver to find a few samples of her work that he could send to the author, Maria Isabel López Martinez, a colleague and friend of Weaver's.

"Beth was a student of mine for a couple of semesters and I thought it would be a great opportunity," said Weaver. "I am familiar with her work because I attended some of her exhibitions and she also made an oral presentation with one of her paintings in my class."

Martinez, a professor of literary theory and comparative literature at the University of Extremadura in Caceres, Spain, wrote La Mujer Ante el Espejo: Un Motive Literario y Artistico or The Woman Before the Mirror: A Literary and Artistic Motif. The book, which was published in mid-December, explains the recurring motif of the woman before the mirror, what she sees and how it's used as a literary device to develop character. Martinez discusses the origins and a development of the theme over time.

"Come Back to Bed," the mixed media painting that Martinez chose, was completed in Associate Professor of Art and Art History Lori Ellis' class during the 2006-07 school year. The piece, acrylic and wire on canvas, portrays a figure of a woman's back with wire wrapped around her body.

"The woman is sitting on her bed in the dark, next to the implied guy she is with," explained Halem. "She cannot appreciate the present because her mind is trapped in the past. The theme of being trapped in a situation is an illusion that your mind creates and controls. The man is saying 'come back to bed' because she is in a different place emotionally than he is.

"The painting is very fitting of the book because it shows the illusion of being trapped, women's motifs and symbolism."

"Beth's empathetic figures are a natural fit for this compelling book," said Ellis. "The international exposure will undoubtedly benefit her promising career as an artist and teacher."

Weaver, who wrote the book's introduction in English, connected Martinez with Edwin Mellen Press of Lewiston, N.Y., because she wanted to have the book published in the U.S.

"The company primarily produces books for research libraries and likes to have the authors supply their own cover art work," explained Weaver. "I thought this would give Beth exposure, something she will be able to interplay between the artwork and the book."

"It's really nice to have my work out there," noted Halem, who hopes to attend Queens College in the fall to pursue a graduate degree in early childhood education. "I feel really lucky to be given the opportunity because I never thought I would have a chance like this one. It's pretty cool to see it on the cover."