(BRANCHBURG, NJ) -- Raritan Valley Community College’s Arts & Design department is presenting the 17th installment of the RVCC Juried Student Art Exhibition, currently on display virtually on their website. The exhibition website was created by Darren McManus, RVCC Art Gallery Director and Assistant Professor in the College’s Arts & Design department.
The virtual exhibition features work by students in the College’s Arts & Design department dating back to the Fall 2019 semester. Artwork on display highlights an array of media and disciplines including drawing, painting, ceramics, printmaking, video, digital media, photography, color theory, two-dimensional design, sculpture and graphic design.
The guest juror for this year’s exhibition was Los Angeles-based artist Samantha Fields, Professor of Art at California State University, Northridge. Fields evaluated all the entries and made the final selections for the exhibition, including the eight pieces selected for awards.
Samantha Fields has received numerous awards and recognitions for her paintings, including a prestigious City of Los Angeles (COLA) Individual Artist Grant. Fields has an extensive exhibition history, including shows at The California Museum of Photography; The Museum of Art and History in Lancaster, CA; Western Project in Los Angeles; Traywick Contemporary in Berkeley, CA; Melanee Cooper Gallery in Chicago, IL; Suzanne Hilberry Gallery in Detroit, MI; Lemberg Gallery in Birmingham, MI; and Galerie Enholm Englehorn in Vienna, Austria. Her work has been collected by and exhibited at noted public institutions throughout the US. She is currently represented by Traywick Contemporary in Berkeley, CA.
In the show statement, Samantha Fields wrote, "Every spring, colleges and high schools hold the much-anticipated Annual Juried Student Show. At CSUN, where I teach, the day the list is posted of “who got in” is one of celebration for those who see their names, and disappointment for those who don’t. As a teacher, I usually end up talking with my students in an attempt to help them discern why their work did or didn’t get in, and of course, the only person who can ever fully answer that question is the juror. So here I am, the juror, finally able to answer that important question! First, remember this: I am one person, with my own set of criteria, interests and expertise. The next juror will be someone completely different. Whatever you do, win or lose, do not let the judgement of one juror determine your self-worth as an artist. I sincerely hope that all of you continue to hone your skills and enter again next year.
"That said, let me tell you how I made my choices. First: I applaud everyone who entered. We are in a very perilous moment in this nation, a pandemic is raging, an election is being challenged, and many of us are living our lives via Zoom. Some of you might be making work on campus, and others might be making work in an improvised home studio. I will bet that many of you are also working a job while in school, so your exposure to the virus is elevated. These are not ideal conditions and everything we are doing is harder than it was before. Entering a show, especially now, is an act of hope and optimism, and I was thrilled to see so many submissions. I looked at everything many times over as I made my final choices for the exhibition. I was able to do so thanks to Professor McManus, who went to great lengths to make this show happen. His commitment to you is evident in the care and diligence that he brought to this exhibition. He made an exhaustive database for me, so I had easy access to your images by title only, ensuring that the judging process remained completely objective as all students remained anonymous. As I juried, I looked for good craftsmanship and presentation, mastery of materials, and a demonstrated understanding of design principles and composition. I also looked for two things that are very important for an artist: ambition and where applicable, a recognition in the work of the moment we are all currently living through.
"The foundations piece Feminine won Best in Show Overall. This piece had a level of ambition and craftsmanship that allowed me to see the dress before I saw what it was made from. It also raised questions for me: Is it saying that women are treated as disposable objects, sheathed in trash bags? Is it a commentary on “disposable fashion”? Is it a sly reference to the costumes in “The Handmaids Tale”? Does the white garment render this figure a ghost? The layered and nuanced meaning in this work set it apart to earn the top prize. This piece made me think, and wonder, as good art should.
"The Best in Show Overall Runner Up went to the painting titled, Pomegranates. This piece displayed a deft handling of paint and brushstrokes making the traditional subject matter of fruit come alive on the canvas.
"The Best in Show Overall Second Runner Up was awarded to the black and white piece titled, OCD. This work feels like a drawing of this moment, when we are all washing our hands and staying six feet apart while carefully moving about the world in order to avoid something we can’t see at all. The detail in the work mirrored the subject matter in concise fashion.
"The Best in Show for Digital & Multi Media went to the digital painting titled, $200 Bounty. This work shows a bar scene where the action is about to happen. The rendering and placement of the figures tell a story and the more I looked, the more I wanted to know what was going to happen next!
"The prize for Best in Show for Graphic Design went to Bauhaus: History of Graphic Design, which was cleanly made, complete with typographic precision that set it apart. It fully embraced the aesthetic style of the Bauhaus, while educating the reader about this important school of design.
"For the Best in Show in Photography, I chose Dollhouse Quarantine. Again, the ambition of creating the various tableaus, lighting them, and then forming a compelling contemporary narrative stood out amongst the photography work and held my attention. I love the tiny toilet paper rolls!
"In the foundations category, I kept returning to Black and White Collage, which I selected for Best in Show for Foundations. This gentle, beautifully crafted piece had a timeless quality: light playing over the surface of a flower, translated into cut paper. This piece was so well made that it transcended its humble materials. In times of chaos and peril, sometimes a beautiful play of light, captured so well, can remind us of the beauty that surrounds us even still.
"For Best in Show for Drawing, I chose Mask: Red & Blue because it sums up this entire moment. Red, blue, and a mask. A divided nation, united by a virus that does not care who we voted for. The simplicity of this piece, the statement it makes, and the loving rendering of the life-saving mask brought me right back to this very moment in time.
"Art is always a reflection of the world we live in. It is also a reflection of the artist. Even when you are making works predicated on formal skill development, there is an opportunity to bring in something more. Even a basic color wheel exercise is an opportunity to practice precision, to revel in the spectrum of color that makes up everything we see. Meaning is where we find it, where we make it, and what we do with it. Thank you for sharing your work with me, I was impressed with the artwork being made at Raritan Valley Community College and wish you all great success as you continue your education.
"Onward student artists!" -- Samantha Fields
Each student was permitted to submit up to three pieces of artwork for consideration. The following students received awards for their submitted artwork:
Best in Show: Overall Sofia Mokhor, "Feminine," plastic garbage bags, 72 x 48 x 60 inches (Class: 3D Design, Spring 2020)
Best in Show: Runner Up Hayley Stricker, "Pomegranates," oil on canvas, 24 x 18 inches (Class: Painting 1, Fall 2020)
Best in Show: Second Runner Up Sarah Switlyk, "OCD," pen & ink on Bristol board, 18 x 24 inches (Class: Drawing 2, Spring 2020)
Best in Show: Digital & Multi-Media Sarah Switlyk, "$200 Bounty," digital painting via Photoshop, 30 x 24 inches (Class: Digital Artmaking, Fall 2020)
Best in Show: Drawing June Varkoly, "Mask: Red & Blue," oil pastel on paper, 24 x 18 inches (Class: Drawing 2, Summer 2020)
Best in Show: Foundations Esteban Arias, "Black and White Collage," magazine paper on Bristol board, 14 x 17 inches (Class, Color Theory, Fall 2020)
Best in Show: Graphic Design Ana Carolina Mitchell, "Bauhaus: History of Graphic Design," InDesign & Photoshop, 18 x 32 inches (Class: Visual Design 1, Spring 2020)
Best in Show: Photography Morgan Strus-Allen, "Dollhouse Quarantine," digital photographs, 15 x 14 inches (Class: Alternative Photo Processes, Spring 2020)
Due to COVID-19, the RVCC Art Gallery’s physical space is closed for the Spring Semester. For additional information, contact the Arts & Design department, 908-218-8876, or visit https://www.raritanval.edu/arts.
Raritan Valley Community College is located at 118 Lamington Road in Branchburg, New Jersey.
IMAGES: (TOP TO BOTTOM) Emma Sodano, “Fauvist Painting,” acrylic on Bristol board (Class: Color Theory, Fall 2020)
Ana Carolina Mitchell, “Bauhaus: History of Graphic Design,” digital (InDesign & Photoshop), (Class: Visual Design 1, Spring 2020)
Sofia Mokhor, “Ukrainian Girl,” paper clay & mixed media (Class: Three-Dimensional Design, Spring 2020)
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