Tag Archives: Syracuse Artist

Inside the Artist’s Studio with Julie Herman

I am a Syracuse, NY based photographer with work in the de/composition exhibition currently on display at Main Street Arts.

"Packard Automotive", photograph included in de/composition at Main Street Arts

“Packard Automotive”, photograph included in de/composition at Main Street Arts

I received my BFA from Alfred University, and currently work for Light Work, a non profit photography organization based at Syracuse University. Light Work supports emerging and under represented artists through a residency program, grants, and lab facilities. I also do freelance work and studio photography.

My photographs focus on the decline of American industry, and the effect it has had on neighboring communities. As a child growing up in Endicott, NY, I witnessed the slow collapse of IBM, the region’s major employer. When layoffs began, I remember watching my father worry about losing his job. As offices closed, and manufacturing plants were shut down, the landscape became dotted with vacant factories and shuttered storefronts. As IBM’s presence in Endicott slowly dwindled, the places where I spent my childhood were abandoned, and stand now as derelict property.

The IBM country club pool, now full of reeds and rainwater

The IBM country club pool, now full of reeds and rainwater

Former blast furnace, Pennsylvania

Former blast furnace, Pennsylvania

As I began to search for other towns that had been similarly affected, I saw the same story unfold in other areas; places that once had function and purpose are now empty, nature slowly reclaiming the buildings and their contents. Despite their great amount of deterioration, I find these places serene. A sun beam through the roof, or a seedling rooted in the floor signal hope and beauty where it might not be expected.

Control panel at the now abandoned IBM country club

Control panel at the now abandoned IBM country club

Empty house in a company town in Pennsylvania

Empty house in a company town in Pennsylvania

Forgotten work glove at a Pennsylvania lace factory

Forgotten work glove at a Pennsylvania lace factory

Recently, I have begun collecting mementos from the places I visit. Old invoices, letters, torn wallpaper, and discarded books all tell stories of those who had been there before. I have also been collecting old IBM memorabilia: postcards of the manufacturing facilities, photographs, and items that belonged to my father. I don’t know what I will do with them yet, but gathering them feels like the next step to me.

Collected items

Collected items

I took my first photography class in high school, where I was introduced to a traditional black and white darkroom. Despite the prevalence of digital cameras, analog processes are still central to my image making process. While my freelance work demands the immediacy of a digital workflow, almost all of my personal work is done in the darkroom.

I photograph using medium format film cameras from the 1950’s and 60’s. Shooting with film forces me to slow down, consider each frame, and be present in the space. There is joy and excitement in waiting to see the images; not knowing with certainty that I’ve captured what I intended.  I enjoy the process of analog photography, the physicality of the work, and even after two decades of darkroom printing, watching an image materialize in the developer is a magical experience.

After years of using a community space, I finally installed a darkroom in my basement. The nice thing about developing film and silver gelatin prints is that it doesn’t change much. It’s the same process that I used in high school. There is no need to upgrade to a better camera, a nicer monitor, or faster computer.

You can see more of my work at www.juliekherman.com or on instagram @juliekherman.

Julie Herman is one of 31 artists featured in the national juried exhibition de/composition at Main Street Arts. Work from the exhibition can be previewed and purchased through the gallery’s online shopde/composition runs through June 28, 2019.

Inside the Artist’s Studio with Faithanne Carapella


Teacher/Artist. Artist /Teacher.

I am an artist who teaches. Drawing and teaching are methods of informing  the manner in which I learn about my self, my environment. Teaching requires that you examine and pay attention to the world outside of yourself. Teaching clarifies your ideas and makes you examine what is not quite clear. Art pulls it all together.


I grew up in Syracuse, NY. I believe that there is a  Central New York “look” that invades most of my work. I attended SUC Buffalo and received an MFA from Syracuse University.

I draw. I draw because I find making marks to be the most immediate, the most fluid, most adaptable process for how and what I see. The marks move from my heart to my eyes, to my brain to finally to my hand. I find that drawing can move from raw, emotional and straight from the gut sensation or it can clean up to become sleek refined and elegant observational recording.


For me, drawing always starts from  sheer observation. While I see an initial image before I even begin a drawing, the time between the beginning and end of of drawing influences the final strokes. Things change. When I start a drawing, I think know where I am headed. I am sure that I am concentrating on a form or a tangle of positive and negative space. I am looking at light and dark. I am seeing texture. I am filled with concern about a natural phenomenon. But suddenly the drawing gains a life of its own. There is a constant conversation between me and the material and the idea. Sometimes the drawing and I fight and argue. And sometimes we co-exist peacefully. We work it out.


Obviously, I am strongly influenced by my environment. I am always aware of both interior and exterior environments. My drawings are where I live and how I live and oh, I do live inside of these drawings. The elements and images and ideas are sometimes actual events. Sometimes they are metaphorical. There are great amounts of manipulation of idea and technique.  And then again, often an audience reads them as a totally different entity and that is good. Art tells stories that allows everyone to interpret as they need. My own internal and external landscapes drive what and how I draw.but I watch and try to interpret how others inhabit the same places. I see images in my head suddenly and without warning. They germinate and marinate over time. When they are ready to happen, they know.



I usually have 4 or 5 drawings developing at the same time. Sometimes the work just needs the time to sit and figure itself  out. I simply lay down the marks that give voice and credence. All of the images. All the memory. All of the world. All of the daily observation. It is a tangle. It is my job to unravel and make sense of it all.


While the technical part takes some time—the tiny marks, the light against the dark—the composition knows itself immediately. The drawings are never precious. I usually let them get a bit beat up I often just rip them up and reassemble. I make great mistakes and sometimes embrace those mistakes. Sometimes I do not. I add materials. I currently have a pile of smooth clean bark that I found in a pile in the woods.



While I’m currently working on natural environments I’ve always been entranced by the all of the spaces that people inhabit. I’ve worked with interiors that include the artifacts that people leave behind. I watch the effect that they have on spaces.


I was that kid that grew up on concrete sidewalks. I played kickball in the middle of the busy city streets under streetlights. I sat on the curbs and watched cars drive by and wondered where the people were coming from and going to. I wondered about the stories. I always found solace and comfort in the hidden quiet nature so often overlooked in urban areas. Weeds that survived the trauma of concrete. Branches bent by forces specific to cities. Insects. Weather patterns. Rocks. Seeds. I picked up acorns and beautiful chestnuts from old city trees. I carried them in in my pockets. Dandelions were as beautiful as the city park roses. Maybe more so. I loved the darkness and lightness of evening. Stars . Lightening bugs. I collected leaves and rocks. Dead insects. Bird nests. Bones. These objects were Talismans from nature. They were to pondered and studied for shape. Form. Color. All of the concepts that I eventually learned in school I learned on the streets. Two objects placed next to each other-appeared a certain way. When you rearrange the grouping the image and feel changed.



I am currently working on this group of drawings that center on the trauma of our earth, I think I see it as a way of earth reacting to our brutal action. We overrun and abuse the earth. We leave our imprint. Wind/Air. Water. Fire .Ice. Stone. All alive .  Hurricanes. Rockslides. Fires. Tsunamis. Tornados. I just heard of the latest phenomena this morning. A fire tornado. It is tragic,but that will be a future drawing. The earth reacts to our presence and we are now watching the result.

Recently I stumbled across a house for sale. The setting  appeared to be pulled straight out of one of my old drawings. The house is made of logs and sits in the middle of a mishmash of old trees. The ancient land is covered with boulders and rocks and moss. A winding creek cuts through a deep ravine. The environment is full of shadow and light. Drawings will happen here.


My one consistency is that I must draw everyday. It’s a habit. In my head I need to remember the eye/hand/brain connection. Observation. Correct drawing and then I can throw it away or tear it up. . Sometimes I simply throw washes down on big paper. Charcoal and ink seem to fit as natural mediums. They seem close to the earth for me. They connect.


I find my drawings becoming more wild. More fragmented and more ragged. Less observational, more emotional. I look around and I start adding other materials. I watch them and suddenly I know a part of will happen on that page. And then I draw. And I will continue to draw.

Faithanne Carapella is one of six artists featured in the Upstate New York Drawing Invitational at Main Street Arts. Work from the exhibition can be previewed and purchased through the gallery’s Artsy page. The Upstate New York Drawing Invitational runs through September 28, 2018.


Meet the Artist in Residence: Amber Roach

Amber Roach, artist in residence during the months of November and December 2017 at Main Street Arts, is working in one of our two studio spaces on our second floor. We asked Amber some questions about her work and studio practice:

Amber Roach

Amber Roach

Q: Tell us about your background.
I was born and raised in Syracuse, New York. I graduated from Syracuse University with a BFA in illustration.

Q: How would you describe your work?
My preferred medium is relief printmaking. However, I wouldn’t confine myself to only using a printmaking process when making a piece. If I feel it would be enhance by painting or drawing I’ll work in a more mixed media fashion. I would describe my work as graphic yet textural.

Prints by Amber Roach

Prints by Amber Roach

Q: What is your process for creating a work of art?
Once I’ve decided on a subject matter I start out with very loose thumb nail sketches. After I feel I’ve gotten a decent composition I’ll transfer my drawing to the block and redraw it with more detail. I carve the block and do about a dozen test prints to figure out which colors to use.

Q: What are your goals for this residency?
For this first month, I want to fine tune my portfolio and create more pieces that are cohesive with my current body of work. Primarily I’ve been making linocut pieces. For the second month, I want to get back into oil painting.

Amber Roach working in her studio at Main Street Arts

Amber Roach working in her studio at Main Street Arts

Q: What is the most useful tool in your studio?
My glass palette.

Q: Who is your favorite artist and why?
My favorite contemporary painter is Kent Williams because of his use of color and the way he captures the figure. My favorite contemporary printmaker is Kathleen Neeley — I admire her style and the characters she creates.

Q: How do you promote your work?
Mostly through my Instagram but I’ll also send out mailers to art directors.

Print by Amber Roach

Print by Amber Roach

Q: What’s next for you?
After this I will probably be planning a move to New York or hunting down another residency.

Q: Where else can we find you?
Instagram: @amberleighroach
My website: www.amberroach.com
Etsy: www.etsy.com/shop/amberroachart

Are you an artist looking for new opportunities? Apply for a residency at Main Street Arts. Artists in residence have 24-hour access to a large studio on our second floor (with great natural light), the option to show work in the gallery, and the opportunity to teach paid workshops. Housing is available. Submissions are reviewed and residencies awarded quarterly. Upcoming deadline: November 30, 2017 for a residency in January, February or March 2018.

Q & A with Michael Hughes

The Upstate New York Ceramics Invitational at Main Street Arts will feature functional and sculptural ceramic work by 13 artists from the region. This invitational represents some of the most exciting contemporary ceramic work being made in upstate New York.

The exhibition will be held July 11–August 29, 2015.
Online purchasing will begin in mid-July.

Michael Hughes

Syracuse ceramic artist Michael Hughes

Ceramic artist Michael Hughes

Q: Where are you from originally and where are you now?
A: I am originally from Rochester but have relocated to Syracuse by way of Chicago, Taiwan and Seattle.

Q: When did you realize you wanted to be a ceramic artist?
A: I first took a ceramics class as an elective in college. I was a bio major but eventually switched to ceramics.

Q: Did you make other types of artwork before finding ceramics? Do you currently make other work?
A: I have done a little painting but ceramics has always been my primary interest.

Q: Do you have an artistic hero or an artist you look up to?
A: There are many artists I admire but not one in particular.

Q: What is your largest source of inspiration?
A: Simplicity always inspires me whether it is from art and design or from nature.

Q: Do you look forward to opening the kiln? Or do you wince at the thought of something going wrong in there?
A: I do look forward to opening the kiln but I am always aware of how things can change from my expectations.

Q: What is it like being a ceramic artist in Upstate NY?
A: I like being an artist in upstate NY but I miss the diversity of bigger cities. And it has been freezing for the past few weeks so I like it better in the spring and fall.

Q: Where else are you showing your work this summer or fall?
A: I am limiting my showing this summer as I have a couple other projects I am working on. Fall is still undecided.

Q: Is there anything strange or unique that people might not know about you?
A: I don’t know if it is very unique but along with ceramics I also have a great deal of personal experience working with people with developmental disabilities. And yeah there are a couple of strange things about me… The book will be out on that soon.

Work by Michael Hughes

Bowls by Michael Hughes

Bowl by Michael Hughes

Bowl by Michael Hughes

Bowl by Michael Hughes

Bowl by Michael Hughes

Cup by Michael Hughes

Cup by Michael Hughes

Where can people see more of your work/follow you?
Etsy: mrhstudio
Website: www.mrhstudio.com

Check out the previous Q & A with ceramic artist Bryan Hopkins.