Creative Interpretations: featuring artwork created by students in Art Journaling Classes with Carolyn DiFiori Hopkins

October 1st to 30th 2021

Artist Reception: Friday, October 1st, from 4:30 to 5:30pm

The R Gallery at Arlene’s is pleased to announce Creative Interpretations, an exhibition featuring artwork in sketchbooks and journals using various media at 57 Fuller Rd. Artist Reception on October 1st, from 4:30 to 5:30pm, the exhibition showcases work by students in Art Journaling Classes with Carolyn DiFiori Hopkins in the Atelier at Arlene’s program. 


This exhibition brings together work by these student artists working in sketchbooks and journals using various media to highlight the role that art played in their pandemic lives while making work about family, isolation, nature, loss of loved ones, self portraiture, and how discovery helped reflect sensitivity and creativity. Featured artists include Virginia Papandrea, Monet McCoy, Emily Finelli, Melissa Mansfield, Shelby Harrison, Melissa Axley and Andrew Madey.


The work in Virginia Papandrea’s journals tends to be highly personal, reflecting on her feelings and about the world around her.  The embattled election process in 2020, the long COVID lockdown and restrictions, climate change, etc. have presented unique opportunities for introspection, meditation, and hopefully some degree of spiritual growth.  Papandrea’s art journals provide her with a way to record these musings about and struggles with what is.  They also give her a chance to explore who she is as an artist. 


Monet McCoy has always had a passion for art. Recently, she has been able to put that passion in motion. McCoy has become a creative and, in these classes, found other like minded creatives. She expresses herself through art and shows her unique point of view.


Emily Finelli has always enjoyed creating art since childhood. Having never taken a formal art class before and after reading the description for the art journaling class, Finelli felt like the time was right to try. She lost her father to cancer in 2019 and every art piece she attempted on her own to express my emotions just fell flat.  In her own words, “this class allowed me to find new forms of media to express my personal thoughts and emotions. As someone who primarily liked to paint with acrylics, it felt like a leap to use cut and paste, water colors, and pastels. I witnessed a significant growth in my art by trying these new media and I'm extremely grateful for everything this class has taught me.”


As part of Carolyn DiFiori Hopkins’ journaling course, Melissa Mansfield started this notebook project on the night of the 2020 election, ready to put her anxieties and nerves into art, both as a therapeutic exercise and a way to document a time of uncertainty. From suffragette rallies to crowded California highways, Mansfield  collected images that made her wonder about the moment captured--the people in the photos and those just off to the sides. Using collage and oil pastels, Mansfield added whimsy to the ordinary and joy to the mundane. Through these works, she created a world Mansfield would want to inhabit. 


Shelby Harrison is a life-long workshop participant.  Signing up for workshops, mostly in water media, and then letting my painting supplies sit idle until the next workshop.  This year she retired from my career as a government administrator and made a commitment to make art consistently and to produce art that reflects me and my vision.  Carolyn’s journaling workshop has been the spark I needed to explore my own personal style.


During COVID, Melissa Axley was an essential worker who went into the office every day to support the State’s logistical and information needs. It was a tough year to say the least. This piece reflects the ups and downs of living through COVID, including going to work on a daily basis and dealing with a positive case in her family.


Andrew Madey created little experiments where colors, textures, and lights sling together, as though in a song. These represent a year’s worth of work in color and collage.

Creative Interpretations will be on view at R Gallery at Arlene’s, 57 Fuller Rd Albany NY 12205, through Saturday, October 30th, 2021. The gallery is open Monday through Friday from 10am to 6pm, Thursday 10am to 7pm and Saturday 10am to 5pm. For more information, please contact the gallery at (518) 482-8881, or email

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about the juror: Carolyn DiFiori Hopkins has been working with the Atelier at Arlene's since the beginning of 2020 and offered her first online Art Journaling Class with the program in Fall of the same year. The Art Journaling Class quickly became a respite for students in no small part to Hopkins expertise. She worked with the Gallery Director of the R Gallery at Arlene’s and juried this exhibit not only to highlight the talent of the students who attended her classes but also the benefit of the class itself.


Hopkins was born in Philadelphia, Pennsylvania, and was raised in Philadelphia and Haddon Heights, New Jersey. She Currently resides in the Eagle Hill section of Albany, NY. She received her MFA and MA from the State University of New York at Albany and attended Rutgers University and Philadelphia College of Art for undergraduate school. Her work has been exhibited widely. She is an award-winning artist whose work is in various private and public collections.