Cara DeRose, Chief Copy Editor
On the evening of March 16, guided by small candles, placed in paper bags, that illuminated the winding edges of their path, students and faculty members alike walked to the USM Art Gallery in Gorham, where the USM Student Juried Exhibition opening reception was held. From 6 p.m. to 8 p.m., attendees could view the forty pieces of student work, running the creative gamut from traditional pen and ink drawings to intricate ceramic sculptures, that are on display in the gallery until April 2.
These pieces were selected by three jurors from ninety-five student submissions. Carolyn Eyler, director of exhibitions and programs at USM, described what the jurors for the exhibition had in common with one another. She remarked that the three jurors were local art professionals “who are practicing,” and that they have some experience with museum curation. This year, the jurors were Jocelyn Lee, a photographer; George Longfish, an artist and curator; and Clint Fulkerson, a visual artist whose exhibit “Fluid Geometry” is currently on display in Woodbury.
About what students majoring in studio art can gain from submitting to and having their work potentially showcased in a juried exhibition, Eyler emphasized how the process can be a primer for students on how the professional art world functions.
“Participating in a juried exhibition can help students become exposed to going through the process. They also get experience with receiving and learning from outside feedback that isn’t just from professors at the university,” she said. “For those included in the exhibition, it also teaches them how to prepare their work to be displayed. [They need] to figure out what adjustments need to be made and how to put their work up in the environment.”
Kim Grant, associate professor of art history and chair of the Art Department, added that the submission process, and the possibility that one’s piece may not be selected or may not win an award, can help young artists develop a thicker skin.
“[Students] get their work out their publicly, which can be anxiety-inducing,” she said. “And even if they aren’t selected, or they don’t win an award, they should be willing to keep trying. Jurors are subjective, and students need to realize that their work is probably just as good as the other work that may have won something.”
Jill Osgood, a senior studio art major who has an untitled relief wood block print featured in the exhibition, spoke about the importance of the selection process to a student’s growth as an artist.
“A lot of professional shows are juried, and a jury of your peers, those who are doing what you do outside of a classroom, is important,” Osgood said.
Osgood noted that student artists should keep their expectations realistic.
“Just because you submit your work doesn’t mean you’ll get in,” she said.
Kayla Frost, another senior studio art major whose work was included in the exhibition, also discussed what students can learn from participating in juried exhibitions.
“It’s a great opportunity to submit,” she said, “and see what other artists think of [your] work. …It’s a great way to get your foot in the door [and] to really connect with the artists.”
The three jury award winners announced at the reception were Samuel Goldberg, Melissa Bardsley and Kayla Frost, all of whom received a cash prize. President Glen Cummings made a speech during the reception, highlighting how the student work displayed was not derivative but, rather, “original brilliance on the part of” USM’s art students. Cummings then discussed the many marketable traits he believed art majors possessed, and followed this with his response to whether or not an arts degree is worth anything.
“It’s everything,” he said.