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News from: Adam Tramantano, Artist, Tramantano.com
Contact: Adam Tramantano
Tramantano [at] gmail [dot] com
Portraits of Power: presidential portraiture from Reagan to Trump, by artist Adam Tramantano, will be on display in The Kasser Space, Teachers College, Columbia University, from Monday February 19 to Monday March 12, 2018
[New York] Artist and Teachers College graduate (MA ’01, EdD ’18) Adam Tramantano will have six portraits of US presidents (from Reagan to Trump) on display in Teachers College’s Kasser Space from Presidents’ week (Febrauray 2018) to mid-March 2018. Tramantano painted a portrait of every US president over the past year. The exhibit, titled, Portraits of Power: Presidential Portraiture from Reagan to Trump, asks us to look at the power and vulnerability of these leaders.
Adam Tramantano has been a high school English teacher for 17 years, beginning his career at A. Philip Randolph High School, he currently teaches at the prestigious Bronx Science. A father of two, Tramantano completed 45 portraits of US presidents from December 2016 to September of 2017, while finishing his dissertation, and teaching full time. Several paintings were on display for the month of December in Tarrytown Library’s Warner Gallery. The exhibit in the Kasser Space focuses on our six most recent presidents. Tramantano is a self-taught artist who took on the project in order to hone his craft for portraiture. All references for the paintings are based on public domain images.
“At first I was just trying to render the faces I saw. But, as I painted the contemporary presidents, the ones I lived through, I started to realize that I was steering their representation,” says Tramantano. “That’s when it started to occur to me that portrait painting isn’t just about a painting looking like someone; it’s about how we feel about people; it’s about the emotions that a face conjures up. By taking a look at our leadership, we’re taking a look at ourselves.”
Tramantano grew up in the Bronx and gained his initial understanding of art while preparing for art high school admissions exams. He started painting in college but did not take the practice up consistently. In December of 2014, after buying paints and canvases for his children, Tramantano was inspired to return to painting. “We put newspaper down on the table and started to paint. Two hours later, the kids say they’re done and I’m still sitting there, painting away. Every night that week, after the kids went to bed, I stayed up and worked on another painting.” Just two months into painting, Tramantano had his first piece in a group show with The Stamford Art Association. By the end of 2015, Tramantano had sold several pieces including a painting he sold online to a collector in Saudi Arabia.
For the presidential portraits, Tramantano wanted to invite discussion. “Art is an educational enterprise,” says Tramantano. During the process of painting the portraits, several people wanted to know if Tramantano was going to paint Trump and, if so, how he was going to portray him. “I didn’t want to do a mocking portrayal. I’m not a supporter of his but he’s part of the reason I wanted to paint every president in the first place.” Given the tumultuous political times, who our president is and what he does is a constant refrain in our lives. No matter where we might stand politically, we cannot ignore that the discussion of our leadership is more at the forefront of our lives than it has been in modern times. Therefore, who our presidents have been must continually come into focus and be assessed within the current context.
Tramantano is working on his next project in which he explores the selfie as an iconic activity of our day and age.