Endangered Species

Is the American way of life as we know it inching its way toward extinction? This was the question Kathleen Boyle Bartoletti ’80 posed in American Buffalo, one of 10 artworks in her Target series, which primarily features endangered animals.

Long before this year’s divisive political season, Bartoletti took star-spangled aim at a flawed system with this piece, which she created shortly after the contentious 2000 election. “When that close race landed in the courts and Al Gore, the environmental candidate, lost, there were many questions about what that meant for the environment,” says Bartoletti, who has always been sensitive to both national and global issues. “I was also concerned about the rise of anti-American sentiment abroad—building since the Iranian hostage crisis in 1979—which seemed to make it more risky to identify as an American.”

Crediting much of her rewarding career as an artist to Sarah Lawrence, Bartoletti especially recalls the influence of William Conlon, who taught painting, drawing, and a seminar in art criticism. “Bill pushed me to overcome my shyness, be committed, and experience new things,” she says. Taking Conlon’s advice to heart, she and fellow student Elka Gould ’80 formed the Art Awareness Group, which published a newsletter, hosted speakers, and exhibited art around campus.

Bartoletti still keeps in touch with Elka’s 93-year-old father, Philip Gould, her beloved art history professor. “He was invaluable to my development,” she says. “He taught me how to trust my instincts. He expanded my awareness of art and of what it would take for me to become a ‘real’ artist.”
Patti Harmon