Alumnus Clifford Chieffo donates artwork to Buley


Sofia RositaniReporter

Alumnus Clifford Chieffo donated his artwork to the university, and it is up in Hilton C. Buley Library’s Art Gallery until April 2.

The gallery offers very vibrant surroundings of the paintings that Chieffo painted. Many students who walked into the gallery stared at many of the paintings in awe due to the detailing of the paintings.

The gallery, titled “Paintings and Works on Paper by Clifford Chieffo,” features not only paintings, but also one work of newspaper clippings put together creating an image of Martin Luther King Jr. According to gallery director, Cort Sierpinski, Chieffo and his wife Patricia graduated from Southern in the 1950s, and after he graduated, he created the art department at Georgetown University. He also said Chieffo’s wife worked at the Smithsonian museums in Washington, DC and the two donated money for scholarships to the university.

The art in the gallery has a meaning behind it.

“I think it’s all very personal. It’s about relationships that he has with society in general,” Sierpinski said. “You will notice from the titles there is paintings of him in his studio and references his wife so I think the thought process is his own personal relationships, and as well his relationship with society.”

For Sierpinski, as a gallery director he must sit and speak with the art department and gallery committee to go over what will go up each year. There is a back area of the gallery where there are many different pieces: African art, pre-Columbian art, contemporary paintings, historical work dating back to the 1500s and works on paper. They must make sure everything is preserved. They also bring in outside shows, and at the end of the academic year graduating studio art majors works are shown as a group.

According to The Hoya, the largest online student newspaper source, Chieffo has works up in many different places of high status such as the Library of Congress, the Baltimore Museum of Art, the National Museum of American Art, the Smithsonian, the White House, and the Berkshire Museum. Chieffo worked on “The Exorcist,” a horror movie from 1973, and he taught Patrick Ewing, a Hall of Fame basketball player, how to paint.

“Chieffo and his students took part in the protests to argue that there needed to be more accessibility to course enrollment, as well as spaces for artistic expression on campus and recognition for the arts community” The Hoya stated. “He and his students held signs reading, ‘Equal Rights for the Arts.’”

According to The Georgetown University website, not only did Chieffo do that but the Reflection Garden, made for those who lost their lives to Sandy Hook, on campus was also created by him.

The website also said, “On May 4, 2018, Professor Emeritus Cliff Chieffo cut the ribbon to dedicate a new Reflection Garden at Southern Connecticut State University. The garden honors four educators and graduates of SCSU who lost their lives in the 2012 Sandy Hook tragedy.”

Further preparation was required to get the paintings in the gallery and on display.

“A lot of the paintings have been in storage for decades so some of them needed to be cleaned,” Sierpinski said. “Some of them needed frames repaired and replaced so all of that takes a lot of time so that is assuming if the artwork is ready to hang sometimes it isn’t and it does need repairs.”

Sierpinski also said it depends on if it is an outside artist and what their expectations are. For example, last semester, when “The Caged Bird Sings” was on display, the artist had certain desires for what she wanted in the show and how it was shown.

Photo Credit: Roma Rositani

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