Image courtesy of Kyle Mercier

By: Zoe Bernardi, Community Editor 

As we near the end of the semester, the USM Art Gallery begins to put together the Juried Art Show. According to the USM art department webpage the showcase is described as a showcase where,  “students across all majors at the University, the Juried Student Exhibition fosters student preparation for professional art settings and processes, provides feedback from art professionals in the community, and exposes their work to a wide range of viewers.”  Students were given the ability to submit three pieces of work,  then the gallery and professors hand pick the pieces that go into the show picking three top winners. The first winner being $125, the second and third having a prize of $100, this year they also granted three honorable mentions. 

This year the showcase was from March 10 to April 2, 2022, there were 76 pieces in this year’s showcases. The pieces range from paintings, drawing, ceramics, photography and sculpture. In first place was Krystal Yavicoli with her piece “Raku Vase”, which is a ceramic case that is 6.5 inches tall. In second place was Anna Maria Bruner and her mixed media piece titled “Book of Dionysus”, and in third was Madison MacDonald with an oil painting on wood panels titled “Inside Information.” The honorable mentions this year were Han Nguyen’s “Self Portrait”, which was oil on canvas. Then Sharon Gerrish’s “Poppies” a ceramic piece, and then Gloria Steiger oil on canvas piece titled, “Gaze”.

Krystal Yavicoli is a junior in the program BFA in studio art concentration painting and ceramics. She is originally from Buffalo, New York, but has been living in Portland while attending USM. Yavicoli was fortunate to have three pieces in the show this year, she had submitted the ceramic piece Raku Vase, a self portrait titled “Cleanse” which was oil on canvas, and another painting called “Studio Sink” which was a rendition of the sink in the art building on the Gorham campus.  She laughs as she says, “ I didnt think my paintings would win, but I was shocked to hear my vase did.” She states they began calling off the name slowly, and before they announced the first place winner they said they had chosen three honorary mentions. “But it was a total shock when I won, especially with it being a ceramic piece, it’s not very common to win, as painting is the top art that is deemed as being good to be called ‘high art’.” She gleams as she explains her gratefulness when it came to her win and her little 6.5 inch vase that got the first place prize. 

“I chose the vase specifically, worked very hard on it, it was very striking and beautiful. With the paintings, I chose my most resolved and most recent works, I thought they’d be good contenders.”  

Krystal Yavicoli’s “Raku Vase,” the 1st place winner of the Juried Student Exhibition, image courtesy of Kyle Mercier

Yavicoli explains that she started pottery three to four years ago when she took a Portland Pottery class and it was extremely difficult at first. But then, “towards the end of the class, I got the hang of it and used my hands to mold a piece of clay to mirror something in your head, I liked making something solid.” She states that clay humbles her, “it is very challenging, lots of steps and process, then your pieces sometimes won’t even make it, so it’s amazing when it does come out.”  

Currently, Yavicoli is in a utilitarian ceramics class and working on creating functional wear, making a matching set of plates and bowls, and a little urn. She isn’t currently working on a painting but has been inspired by the Instagram account “Still Here Still Life”, which each week posts a prompt to create a community of artists to use the prompt and make a piece of art to submit back to the account. “Sometimes when I haven’t painted in a while I try to sit down and just paint, this account helps me have a fun challenge.” 

“I am just proud of the growth of my work, since I’ve started school, and proud of the little community and everyone’s work that I’ve seen grow,” says Yavicoli. 

Han Nguyen, a senior in the Studio art major with a concentration in drawing and painting and a business minor. She is living in Portland, and currently an intern with the USM Artist in residence program with Amy Stacy Curtis’s project “The Color of Memory” . Nguyen submitted two pieces, one entield, “Self Portrait” and the other being “my soul left my body”. Nguyen shares that she submitted her most recent pieces that she did and ones that felt most accomplished and ones she was happy with. 

Nguyen shares that her artist journey and use of color has slowly been growing with her skills. 

“ At the beginning of  my artist career I was only using charcoal and graphic , sticking with black and white. I thought color was intimidating.” But then she took a color theory class her second semester sophomore year, and fell in love with color. 

When she was creating her self portrait, it started as an assignment in class.  She starts with an underpaint for both portraits with monotone color, then adds the color blocking. “I use my brain. I think it works strange, I just look at the underpaint and it breaks down the shadows and highlights.” Then she goes in and paints, but she explains that in the self portrait that the orange is a reflection of the photo she used for reference, but the blue is a perception of herself. 

“I think that the human brain fills in false information, try to not do that when I paint, take a lot of time to break down the subject color wise.” It definitely helps that Han uses herself as the muse and has a very good idea of what she looks like.

Nguyen has her senior show coming up on April 14, with six other seniors, she will be showcasing six to seven pieces. “It’s a series of work, working with painting the female figure reconnecting with my Vietnamese heritage.” Exploring self identity through art and exploring with figures and female bodies. Oftentimes very emotional, and requires research all while carrying a theme with Vietnamese culture. 

Gloria Steiger is a junior, BFA studio arts, with a concentration in painting and drawing, and an art history minor, she is from Maine. She has three pieces in the show, a big oil painting, “Gaze”, that is a figure painting.  “I chose it because I love the color in it.  There’s a pink orange place at the bottom of the space, and a great green piece of drapery.   I love to play with color in a painting.” She shares that the model had a side eye, and Steiger loved how skeptical she looked.  The second piece was a smaller painting on a fresco surface called “Sequelae1”. “It’s a little bit of a study for a larger piece, and I think the idea of Sequelae is interesting. It’s physical evidence in the body of an event.” Steiger says that the body is her horse and that “Sequelae is calcification on his spine.” She also shares that she has “Sequelae as well from various injuries, and it’s a topic I am interested in.” All revolving around the question: “when an injury is invisible yet its evidence remains in your body, how do you continue on your path?” 

Anna Maria Bruner’s “Book of Dionysus,” the 2nd place winner of the Juried Student Exhibition, image courtesy of Kyle Mercier

Lastly, the third piece is called “secret”. Where Steiger collected people’s secrets and locked them in a box and then hollowed out the book and hid the box inside. “It’s got a treasure map that conceals the interior from view. I like the materials, the red color, the process of collecting secrets and making a space for them that will never be opened.” 

Steiger shares that she likes to experiment with materials and process, “I use whatever material works for me. Last summer I spent a bunch of time researching Vermeers paints and his techniques and then I did dozens of experiments to see how they worked for me.” 

Currently she is working on a series of installation projects about altered perception. “I am creating images of what my own perception was like following a head injury.  I felt like I was under a lake and hearing and seeing everything from far below the water’s surface.  

Madison MacDonald’s “Inside Information,” the 3rd place winner of the Juried Student Exhibition, image courtesy of Kyle Mercier

She thinks the brain works is pretty interesting, and how she is fascinated with how the brain receives and interprets information. “It is similar to artists, we interpret what is right in front of us, what I saw, heard and perceived and I want to create a space that lets people experience that.  

Steiger ends with, “I am most proud of keeping going.  I am definitely proud that I am doing this, finishing my degree now.”

To enjoy the USM Juried Show you can use the link below, and be sure to keep your eyes peeled on the senior showcase to see artists like Han Nguyen and others.—%C2%A0all-entries 


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