News & Events

Hartwick's Rocknak Exhibits Sculpture in New York City

June 5, 2009

Stefanie Rocknak asks questions, and she looks for answers. The Hartwick College Associate Professor of Philosophy is well-respected in both her specialty of Hume scholarship and in her parallel career as a renowned sculptor. Rocknak's work "The King" will be on display for the next week as part of a Sculptors Guild show in the windows of New York City's Sak's Fifth Avenue from June 4-11.

Studying painting and art history as an undergrad at Colby College, Rocknak spent a semester abroad in Rome. She was so taken by the figurative sculpture she saw there that she returned home and immediately began teaching herself how to accomplish similarly captivating work in wood.

"To me, sculpture is about capturing body language that might otherwise go unnoticed," she explained. "Figurative sculpture is still quite relevant because it forces us to stop and look at certain expressions and try to understand them at a deeper level. Similarly, philosophy is a way of stopping and looking at certain questions and problems from new angles."

As she began asking thought-provoking questions about the nature of art and why humans create such enduring works, Rocknak was drawn to philosophy. Ever self-reliant, her first formal exposure to philosophy was upon enrolling in a graduate program in the subject.

"While teaching philosophy, you inevitably introduce some difficult positions and ask some complicated questions," she said. "Sometimes you have to peel off a lot of layers to help students understand why these questions and problems are relevant."

Rocknak's bent toward independent inquiry carries over into her teaching, to the benefit of Hartwick College students.

"I try to help my students become independent thinkers and doers," she said. "I had a lot of people tell me that with no formal training, I would never get into a graduate program in philosophy, much less succeed at the doctoral level. Just as many people told me that I would never make it as a sculptor. But if you put your mind to it, and learn how to be self-reliant, you can make things happen. I think that that's an important lesson."

The Sculptors Guild is a nonprofit organization of professional artists founded in 1937 to provide free exhibitions of contemporary sculpture. Its members, chosen on the basis of excellence, work in a variety of aesthetic perspectives techniques and materials.

Rocknak's sculpture has been shown throughout the United States, including New England, California, and New York City, as well as Berlin, Germany.

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Hartwick College is a private liberal arts and sciences college of 1,480 students, located in Oneonta, NY in the northern foothills of the Catskill Mountains. Hartwick's expansive Liberal Arts in Practice curriculum merges traditional liberal arts study, personalized teaching, and experiential learning approaches to emphasize Connecting the Classroom to the World. Add to that a wide range of off-campus internships, collaborative research, study-abroad opportunities, and a unique January Term, and Hartwick prepares students for the world ahead. Strong financial aid and scholarship programs keep a Hartwick education affordable.

Contact: Christopher Lott
Phone: 607-431-4030