School of Art and Design
Galleries : Cohen Center and Gallery

History and Purpose

 The Cohen Center for the Arts Gallery exhibits the work of Alfred University alumni, faculty, and visiting artists. The Cohen Gallery, located at 55 North Main Street in Alfred, provides Alfred University students with hands-on experience in arts administration, community development, marketing and public relations, design, and management. Students assist in all facets of the exhibitions, from designing the space to preparing promotional materials and acting as docents during the shows.

The Cohen Gallery seeks to create opportunities for students, faculty, and alumni to engage in the professional activities of curating and organizing art exhibitions from the ground up, thus providing valuable experience in the business aspects of art. The gallery also provides a supportive environment for exhibitions that serve regional constituencies, such as regional arts councils, public schools, and exchanges between regional art programs at the university level.

The Cohen Center for The Arts was created by the generous gift of Michele and Martin Cohen, parents of Adam Cohen, Class of 2003.

Fall 2017 Exhibitions

November 3-December 8, 2017
Opening reception: November 3, 6-9pm

The Cohen Gallery presents the work of Caroline Charuk (BFA '08), Terry Conrad (BFA '03), Ron Lambert (MFA '04), and SV Randall (BFA '10) in "Residue," curated by Ron Lambert.

As humans we leave a trail behind us- a record of our personal histories. Some of these marks are egregious like the oil spills in the oceans, others are poetic like the subtly scuffed paint surrounding a well-used door knob. The artists in this exhibition are using residue as a tool for making their art. By making objects to create stains, mimic stains, or employ stains for creative reflection, these four artists reflect how residue can create a metaphor for life's experience.

Learn more about the artists' work here:

Concurrent exhibitions by Liz Ainslie and Desiree Des
September 15-October 19, 2017
Opening reception: September 15, 6-9pm

Artists talk prior to exhibition opening:
Liz Ainslie, "Blind Logic: perceptual investigation through logic"
Wednesday, September 13, 4:30pm, Binns 206 Sponsored by the Division of Drawing, Painting, and Photography.

Desiree Des, "Reality Practice: finding what matters to you and your work"
Thursday, September 14, 4:30pm, Binns 206
Sponsored by the Division of Expanded Media.

Exhibitions on view at the Cohen Gallery

Liz Ainslie "The Part of Sight"
The elements within Liz Ainslie's paintings function as fundamental building blocks of perception-represented and rearranged. As a poet might reorder the parts of speech, Ainslie uses the language of abstract painting as a structure upon which to develop a visual investigation of human perception. To this end, the artist has developed a vocabulary of non-objective forms that sidle up with everyday objects, bodies, architecture, and the natural world.

Equally important to Ainslie's work is her manipulation of space through the use of color theory. Each of her paintings holds a record of the color relationships developed by mixing oil paint on the palette and drawing from the memory of observed color. Ainslie uses photography as a sketchbook, capturing interactions between architecture, light with natural interventions on human spaces.

Desiree Des "Real Lookers"
Using consumer-grade cameras, on-demand printing processes, and readymade home goods, Brooklyn-based artist Desire Des examines the tension between the photographic image and its physical presence in space. The works presented in Real Lookers often upend viewer's expectations by throwing the ordinary legibility of snapshots and household wares into question. New perspectives are overlaid on functional objects-like plates, picture frames, and blankets-by compounding their appearances with imagery referring back to themselves. In this fashion, American life's everyday materialism is represented through the interaction of its most familiar implements and their own images-that is, between reality and its depiction.

Des often creates socially engaging contexts for her art multiples, awarding them as prizes at public events, mailing them through the post, or selling them at a low cost in retail environments of her own devisement. This ensures that almost any viewer can choose to take something home and experience it on their own terms-even (and especially) if that means the works are placed into contexts beyond the artist's original intention or control. In this way, Des hopes to encourage conversation about the role of art outside of traditional galleries and underscore how seeing a work over time changes both it and the viewer.

For this show, Des has created a self-service, honor-system, pay-as-you-wish Souvenir Shop where visitors may take home a postcard or poster and "pay" with their own artworks or other monetary and non-monetary offerings. These transactional goods will be displayed on pedestals in the gallery, and contributors are welcome to add the Real Lookers exhibition to their résumé.

Spring 2017 Exhibitions

"William Underhill: Circle and Square," April 15-August 4, 2017
Opening Reception April 15, 6-8pm

The Cohen Gallery at Alfred University is proud to announce Circle and Square, a survey of William Underhill’s cast bronze, iron, and aluminum sculptures. The exhibition features pieces dating from 1960 through his current work. Circle and Square opens April 15th with a reception for the artist from 6-8pm, and will run through August 4, 2017.

Underhill’s work formally explores the vessel and architectural form. Circle and Square highlights sculpture that demonstrates a sophisticated use of geometry. Underhill’s process for generating new sculpture relies heavily on drawing as he cuts and reassembles sketches, exploring new planes to discover new form, searching for a tension found in the “merger of opposites.” The sketches become plasticine forms from which molds are taken before the piece is cast in wax, and finally, in metal.

William Underhill is an emeritus faculty member who taught at NYSCC, School of Art and Design at Alfred University, from 1969 to 1997. During this time he taught sculpture and established the first bronze foundry. Underhill’s contributions helped to significantly expand the Division of Sculpture/ Dimensional Studies.

Underhill received his BFA from California College of Arts and Crafts, Oakland, and his MA in Sculpture from University of California, Berkeley. Underhill studied under Peter Voulkos while at California College of Arts and Crafts. This mentorship had a huge influence on Underhill’s work. After receiving his degrees he went on to teach in New Mexico for one year, after which, he and his family moved to the east coast. He worked many art related jobs, and in 1968 was invited to lead a workshop at Alfred as a visiting artist. This workshop eventually led to a permanent position in the School of Art and Design.

The exhibition was curated by William Underhill and his friend and former student, Ed LeBow, with the assistance of Sharon McConnell’s ART 389 Exhibition Design class. The class visited Underhill’s studio, interviewed the artist, helped make final selections of the artwork, designed the exhibition layout, and finally installed and lit the show. Senior graphic design student, Courtney Ferrara, designed the catalog that accompanies this exhibition. Courtney, with Judy Livingston’s ART 385 Independent Projects in Graphic Design studio course, designed the publicity material for this exhibition.

Circle and Square will be on view at the Cohen Gallery, 55 North Main Street, Alfred, New York. Gallery hours through the close of the semester on May 8 are Tuesday through Friday 11am-5pm and Saturday 12-4pm. Summer Gallery hours will be abbreviated and more information can be found at:

A Day's Work: Rebekah Modrak and Nick Tobier, March 1- April 1, 2017
Closing Reception: April 1, 6-8pm
Rebekah Modrak (Class of ‘92) and Nick Tobier present 'A Day’s Work' at the Cohen Gallery, March 1-April 1, 2017

The joint show features distinct but related bodies of work that serve to challenge viewers' social expectations. 'A Day’s Work' opens March 1, with a closing reception on April 1.

Rebekah's installation, Re Made Co., is a multimedia artistic intervention satirizing the brand narrative of Best Made Co., a New York City-based company that sells painted axes and a range of 'outdoor' consumer products using calculated and false associations with manual labor. Evolving since its launch in July 2013, Re Made Co. works across genres, including Fluxus art whose distribution channels circumvent and subvert the gallery system; critical design that challenges the values of design practice; and activist art or 'culture jamming' that attempts to introduce a critical discourse into passive consumption. Re Made Co. at Cohen Gallery will create a storefront space on Main Street in Alfred with both the products and the critique of luxury consumer culture that seeks to appropriate the work of labor.

Nick will conduct performances in the gallery and community during the month of March. He will present, 'Marvelous Guests,' which lends new working conditions and meanings to several trades by inviting professionals to conduct their business in unusual locations. As a guest. Each encounter will produce its own forms of communication on location.

Both artists taught at the School of Art Design at Alfred University before joining the faculty at the Stamps School of Art & Design at the University of Michigan, Ann Arbor, where they currently live and work.


Romancing the Toaster: Works by Myles Calvert January 27-February 22, 2017
Opening reception Friday, January 27, 6-8pm
Artist Talk Thursday, February 2, 4:30pm in Binns C

Calvert's work explores the relationships that develop between everyday objects and popular culture references. Following the ideals of Romanticism, emphasis is given to an individual experience of emotion. A moment of spontaneity allows for humour and a subtle twist to avoid an overwhelming glorifications of the past through objects of the mundane. His influences are heavily drawn from contemporary and modern printmakers such as Richard Hamilton, René Magritte, and the self-promoting antics of the YBA (Young British Artist) culture. Myles Calvert was born in Collingwood, Ontario (Canada). He attended the University of Guelph with a focus in printmaking and art history, before traveling to London, UK where he completed his MA in Printmaking at Camberwell College of Art (University for the Arts, London). Major bodies of work included mass installations of screen printed toast and the idolization of popular British celebrity.



Student Internships

Curate at the Cohen

Open Hours:

Tuesday, Wednesday, Friday 11am-7pm
Saturday and Sunday 1pm-3pm


The Cohen Center for The Arts Gallery
Director & Chief Curator
Cindy DeFelice
School of Art and Design
2 Pine Street, Alfred, NY 14802

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