CCT: AIPS profile - B.Guarino


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Brad Guarino
Connecticut Artist
Passing Through
Tunxis Community College

In his book A Bend in The River, former Tunxis professor Edward Ifkovic introduces his history of Tunxis Community College with an analogy. He talks about community college being “second chance education” and says that community college is "akin to life on the American western frontier. Out west, in the early days of exploration, no one asked about your past…you were, quite simply, judged by your present behavior and morality." He would tell his students that no matter how horrible their high school transcripts or other transgressions and failures, “we judge you from the eternal Now.” Throughout the book, he makes clear through personal reflections as well as through interviews with former Tunxis students that both the students and the college have had to overcome many significant obstacles in their journey to achieve their respective potentials. This project is inspired by Ifkovic’s analogy, his history of the school, and the stories of the students who participated in this project.


Passing Through is an installation of fifty life-sized stainless steel silhouettes that represent students hiking and engaging in related activities, placed in various locations on the walls of the Building 600 complex at Tunxis Community College. Tunxis students have modeled for the silhouettes, making this a community project and connecting the installation to the school’s population at the point in its history when this addition to the college was built. Participating students were selected based on essays they wrote about their journey to Tunxis and their essays are included on this site.


The centerpiece of the project is a line of figures working their way up the north wall of the phase II addition to the 600 building. Halfway up the wall, the figures take a turn, which not only refers to the “bend in the river” (the meaning of the word tunxis) but is also emblematic of the turning point that the community college experience represents in its students’ lives. The interactions between figures suggest the sense of a supportive community—of people accompanying and helping one another on a journey. The figures all carry backpacks or bags, a reference to the life experiences we all carry with us. As students, staff and visitors walk through the space, the reflective figures continually change, depending on the viewer’s position.


Passing Through is a metaphor for the educational experience—for overcoming obstacles, leaving the past behind, and striving for a better future. The stainless steel surfaces reflect the constantly changing environment, and those at eye level reflect the movements of passersby, thus incorporating viewers into the artwork and alluding to their own journey. The figures appear to interact in various ways with the existing architectural elements of the space. These interactions serve as a metaphor both for adaptation and for the need to negotiate institutional, social and societal “structures” as we strive toward self-actualization.