By Julius Brown
On Thursday, Feb. 16 Sacred Heart University’s Art & Design Gallery held an opening reception for an exhibit celebrating the life of Stefan Novotny.
The exhibit showcased the immense passion and potential that Novotny expressed through his artwork before he passed away from an accidental drug overdose in 2015.
“The sense of misplacement in many of the pieces makes you feel sorry for what Novotny went through in his life,” said sophomore Caroline Barry.
Art & Design Chair and Assistant Professor Mary Treschitta is responsible for the creation of the exhibit. Treschitta knew Novotny from a young age and was able to see how his artistic abilities and potential grew over time.
“A waste, just a waste of great talent and a great personality that will be greatly missed,” said Treschitta.
Novotny depicted exactly how he felt through his work. Favoring the abstract expressionist art style, he explored deep emotions of happiness, depression, sadness and addiction.
Treschitta said how drugs were not what made Novotny a talented artist, he was already a skilled artist beforehand.
The exhibit presented abstract images of Novotny’s inner emotions through violent strokes and chaotic lines that zig zag together to show expression.
“Stefan’s art style comes from the inner caverns of his mind, no question,” said Treschitta.
According to the Connecticut Post, Novotny graduated from Paier College of Art in 2008 with a bachelor’s degree in Fine Art. Art also runs in Novotny’s family; his great-grandfather, Hugo Henchl, was a famous artist from Austria.
Director of the Art & Design Gallery and Associate Professor Jonathan Walker was also involved in the exhibit’s creation and saw similarities between Novotny’s work and the artists he idolized. Many of his pieces resemble works from various expressionist artists around the world.
This exhibit also served to promote awareness of opioid and drug abuse.
Large elaborate pieces with abstract lines and shapes substituted for long lectures about the dangers of drugs. Treschitta said that despite Novotny expressing all the emotions of pain and addiction through his work, he was not the best at vocalizing his struggles to others.
Students observed the pain that Novotny felt through his pieces.
“The presence of pain is definitely apparent. [It’s] overpowering at times, but the beauty of art is at the core,” said sophomore Marisa Tache.
Other students felt the same about how Novotny’s pieces were raw in expression and came to their own conclusions about the abstract works of art.
“Looking at his pieces, it doesn’t feel like he is trying to make art like other artists. He is just being honest,” said freshman Cassidy Walsh. “A tortured artist, it breaks my heart.”
This exhibit hoped to teach students about the dangers of drug abuse; but at the center was how greatly Stefan Novotny and his sense of expression will be missed by the community.
“He loved to laugh, loved to be around people,” said Treschitta. “We just miss him.”