Monday, January 22nd, 2018

Senior exhibit, final pieces before going out into the real world

Matthew Craig

Posted on April 19, 2016 in Arts & Culture
By Krysteana Scribner

Matthew Craig

By: Matthew Craig, Free Press Staff

On Tuesday, April 12, the 2016 exhibition for graduating BFA and BA students of USM opened, with an opening reception on April 14. Professor Porobic opened the ceremony with a speech detailing the hard work and commitment of the students exhibiting their works. This year’s event marks the fortieth time the USM art department has organized an exhibition for graduating art students. This year’s graduating students are Christopher Armstrong, Kevin Gusto, Ryan Jordan, Virginia Monsell and Riley Schwarcz. 

The curator of the gallery, Carolyn Eyler, among other faculty, played a very important role in the development of the exhibition. Graduating students have, of course, been honing their skills in their respective mediums and styles in their classes, but this exhibition was intended to prepare them for showing their work in professional galleries. Faculty use their own experience and expertise to guide these students, so that they can work through the various challenges that setting up in a gallery presents. Not only did this exhibition provided students with valuable experience, but it also bolsters an artist’s résumé. Further, burgeoning artists have the opportunity to work with their peers on a group project. The students are responsible for almost every aspect of the gallery, from the design of the event card to hanging paintings and showing other works.

Riley Schwarcz, one of the students preparing to graduate from USM’s BFA program, enjoyed the collaborative environment that the exhibition provided her. She described her style of art as ‘abstract gestural’. The experience of setting up her work at the gallery was quite valuable to Riley, and she felt it was “really great to get involved in interdisciplinary events.”

Another student involved, Virginia Monsell, primarily works with oil paint, and described her style generally as surrealism and art nouveau. Her art is inspired by personal experiences, and she draws on themes such as feminism, man vs. nature, seduction and mystery. Virginia appreciates the opportunity she has had to show her work, but setting up a professional exhibit is no small task. Not only was the organization of the gallery challenging, but “laying out [her] soul in front of everyone” was “nerve-wracking.”

Kevin Gusto, whose primary medium is oil paint as well, also found the exhibition to be vitally important, stating he “would not have been prepared for the real world without having done this.” Kevin likes to make use of color theory in his work, focusing on the connotations of colors and also how he personally feels about them. He found the guidance provided by faculty to be instrumental to his doing his best work. Kevin originally was accepted to the Savannah College of Art and Design (SCAD), and had studied there for a time before transferring. After studying at USM for a while, he found that the quality of his education was higher than at SCAD, citing the understanding and artistic guidance of USM’s faculty as just one of the reasons why he has enjoyed a better education here. Furthermore, he’s been impressed by how cooperative and helpful his peers have been, and described an instance in which he was painting a stream of water and one of his classmates took the time to pour water for him while he was painting so that he could get a better feel for his piece.

Carolyn Eyler later described the significance of this gallery in itself, as well as in relation to the juried art show that USM organizes. Both events are paramount to USM’s art students and community, but for different reasons. While this gallery is a great opportunity for students to show their finished works in a professional environment, the juried show provides students with the invaluable experience of submitting works, and dealing with rejection. The competitive aspect of the juried show allows the student to learn about the process of getting their work into a gallery in the real world, as opposed to the current BFA gallery where they are entitled to exhibit their art. The juried show is open to all students of USM, and, while Carolyn would love to see more involvement with the show, it has been difficult to spread the word.That is not to say that opinions are not given on the BFA gallery, however. On April 21, from 4-7 p.m., professors, professionals and students will provide critiques of the work on display.