Every month, the Fairfield University Bookstore on Post Road features a new art exhibition from the chosen artist of the month. But this month, the artist, Duane Corey, is not just any ordinary painter, but also familiar face on campus: He is a public safety officer.
Duane Corey has been an artist longer than he’s been a public safety officer, starting to take art classes when he was 13 years old. His father was a musician and always wanted Corey to pursue a form of art.
Corey’s collection is called “Shadow Ball in Jasper’s Town,” named after Jasper McLevy who served as the mayor of Bridgeport, Conn. from 1933 until 1958. The art exhibit features many paintings of Negro League Baseball back in the early 20th century.
“Shadow Ball” was a term used to talk about a pantomime, or performance, routine that the Negro Leagues would do before the games, according to Corey. There had to be extracurricular activities going on to keep the audience engaged.
The pieces of art depict not just Negro League baseball, according to Corey, but also show Bridgeport’s legacy as well as how McLevy “shaped the personality for the city.”
“[McLevy] accomplished the identity of the town, so I decided to call it “Shadow Ball in Jasper’s Town” and took a look back at segregated baseball, and how it was an Americanization process for those individuals,” said Corey. “So I’m trying to depict their story, and it’s different.”
Corey said that since he was the oldest child out of his family, he felt the need to protect and serve, so he took on the public safety position at Fairfield. Corey also made a point that it’s not all of who he is, and that every person has different facets that complete them.
“I think that everyone has a story to tell, whether it’s something they verbalize, whether it’s something they demonstrate,” said Corey. “That’s just my form that I use for self expression and it’s something, like I said, that I just had an aptitude for and something I enjoy.”
The art exhibit can be viewed along the staircase on the way up to the second floor of the bookstore. Nancy Quinn, bookstore community relations coordinator, expressed interest in the connection between the baseball league and Bridgeport.
“It’s so unique,” said Quinn. “It really shows a piece of history within the bookstore.”
Corey expressed that through depicting the stories of Negro League Baseball, he felt that he had a story to tell. For him, it also serves as a form of self-therapy and as an education process. But with his job at Fairfield, sometimes the balance can be difficult.
“You’ve got to make the time, it’s hard, and we’ve got a rotated schedule,” said Corey. “We’re going to try a permanent schedule for a while, so maybe that’ll help balance some of my time where I can get more easel time in there.”
In the near future, Corey would like to continue his artistic career through starting a project on the Jesuit tradition because he is impressed by the history of the Jesuits and their mission, along with their global contribution. It’s a legacy that he would like to depict in his artwork, just as he had with “Shadow Ball” in Jasper’s Town.
Students can check out his latest artwork and exhibits at www.artmyduane.com