Student art club provides creative outlet, support at Upstate

SUNY Upstate student art club

Upstate students at the SUNY Upstate Art Club's exhibition in the Health Sciences Library. From left are Ashis Sinha, Steve Reinheimer and Chandrav De. The shirts in the center of the photo were painted freehand by Chandrav, using a brush and fabric paint. At left is student Samantha Benn's chalk pastel rendering of the Beatles' John Lennon.

On any college campus, Karen Howard says, an art club for students is a must – even at an academic medical university, where the workloads are intense and free time is scarce.

“It’s hard to continue a hobby at this level of education,” she said.

That’s why Karen, a fourth-year student in the MD/PhD program, was pleasantly surprised to find out how much art is being created by Upstate students.

SUNY Upstate Student Art Club

MD/PhD student Karen Howard, president of the Upstate Art Club, with her sketchbook in the Weiskotten courtyard.

So last year she and some other students started an art club on campus. The idea was to provide a positive environment for artists, support their work and provide opportunities to exhibit it.

The informal group became an official Upstate club late last fall and put on an exhibition in April. This month the SUNY Upstate Art Club learned it has been approved for funding by the Campus Activities Governing Board.

“We have 25-plus active members from all four colleges,” Karen said. “The great thing about art is that it’s inclusive. And you do it on your own time. If you’re serious about it, you make time for it.”

Club members are serious indeed.

For the spring art show in the Health Sciences Library in Weiskotten Hall, a dozen students exhibited 25 to 30 works in a variety of media – paintings, photography, digital art, pencil, clay and freehand drawing in stencil style.

Now that the club has a budget ($575), Karen hopes to schedule lunchtime talks featuring guest speakers, and to provide supplies to offset members’ costs for exhibiting their work.

SUNY Upstate Art Club

"Into the Light," acrylic painting by Samantha Benn, a student in Upstate's Radiation Therapy program.

The club’s other goals include:

* An annual show in the Health Sciences Library.

* A room of its own for members to create.

* An auction or other means of selling members’ artwork.

* An annual donation of artwork to the campus.

Last year, the club was led by Karen and co-president, Mani Yahyavi-Tajabadi; pharmacology graduate student Dipmoy Nath; and medical students Charlie Jiao and Erica Brenner. Mani, a third-year medical student, was the primary artist of a huge mural for the 2013 Anatomical Gift ceremony.

Karen is president this year, with fourth-year medical student Steve Reinheimer the treasurer. Charlie is still involved and staffed the club table during the club day fair, Karen said.

SUNY Upstate Art Club

"Shoots and Ladders," a 3D abstract sculpture in clay by Megan Peppenelli, a student in Upstate's College of Graduate Studies.

Any student interested in joining the club or serving as an officer should contact her at Or check out the club on Facebook.

In the art world, Karen is a comic artist, writing as well as illustrating graphic novels – such as “The War of Winds,” an epic fantasy she began for her high school portfolio 10 years ago in Rochester. “I love reading, but I like to visualize what the creator thinks the characters look like,” she said.

With an MD/PhD dual degree in hand in the near future, Karen is looking to specialize in either orthopedic surgery or emergency medicine – wilderness medicine in particular. “The more hands-on, the better,” she said.

Posted in College of Graduate Studies, College of Health Professions, College of Medicine, College of Nursing, MD/PhD program, Student Art Club, Student organizations | Tagged , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , | Comments Off

Graduate students host fundraiser for cancer research

SUNY Upstate Graduate Studies

Students, post-docs and faculty from the College of Graduate Studies will sell lemonade and baked goods Friday on campus to raise money for childhood cancer research. (L-R): Megan Peppenelli; Kevin Kenderes; Nick Smith; Amber Papillion; Carrie Coleman, PhD; Gary Chan, PhD; Arturo Barbachano-Guerrero; Olesea Cojohari; Stuti Sharma. The sale runs 8 a.m. to 4 p.m. in the Weiskotten courtyard and outside Weiskotten's ninth-floor cafeteria.

Students, post-docs and faculty in the College of Graduate Studies are hosting a lemonade and baked goods sale on campus Friday to support pediatric cancer research.

The effort is led by Rosemary Rochford’s lab in Microbiology & Immunology, which is participating in “Alex’s Million Mile,” a walk/run/ride event for cancer research and awareness throughout September.

The nationwide event is part of Alex’s Lemonade Stand, named for Alexandra Scott, an 8-year-old girl who died of cancer in 2004 — four years after she started the lemonade stand movement that had raised $1 million by the time she died.

From 8 a.m. to 4 p.m. Friday, the Rochford team will be in the Weiskotten courtyard and ninth-floor cafeteria offering lemonade and assorted baked goods.

The Rochford labs at SUNY Upstate and at Kenya Medical Research Institute (KEMRI) have been supported by grants from Alex’s Lemonade Stand Foundation. Dr. Rochford leads Upstate’s prominent research efforts on Burkitt’s lymphoma, the most common childhood cancer in sub-Saharan Africa.

Any donations to the Rochford Lab team will help Alex’s Lemonade Stand Foundation support the work of the Rochford lab. There’s still time to join the team and help reach its goal of logging 1,000 miles, said Carrie Coleman, PhD, a post-doctoral fellow in Dr. Rochford’s lab.

Or just stop by Friday, make a donation and enjoy some lemonade.

Posted in cancer, College of Graduate Studies, community outreach, faculty, global health, Microbiology & Immunology program, Research | Tagged , , , , , , , | Comments Off