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Students take professional turn in gallery exhibition

Community artists judge works from undergrads and graduate students in annual art show

Cucumber water, dreamy music and a host of students’ artwork greeted a lively crowd in List Art Center Saturday night at a reception to celebrate the Student Exhibition at the David Winton Bell Gallery. The exhibition at the gallery, a space normally reserved for professional artists, opened Jan. 21 and closed Feb. 2.

Todd Stong ’14 and Anna Muselmann ’14, department undergraduate leaders for the Department of Visual Art, planned the show and were responsible for informing students of the opportunity to submit pieces, gathering the artwork and choosing the jurors, Muselmann said. The exhibition, which is in its 34th year, has always been student-run, she added.

Planning for the show started in the beginning of the fall semester with an extensive meeting with Assistant Professor of Visual Art Leigh Tarentino and the gallery’s staff, Stong said.

The show’s jurors — who were chosen by the DUG leaders — were responsible for selecting which pieces were admitted and which received awards, Muselmann said. The jurors gave out first, second and third place prizes, honorable mentions and two Juror’s Choice awards, she added.

This year’s jurors were Susan Lichtman ’78, a well-known painter in the Providence community, and sculptor Kelli Rae Adams, a ceramics instructor at the Rhode Island School of Design who has previously displayed her work at the Bell Gallery.

Each student was allowed to submit two pieces, Muselmann said.

The admissions process was blind, she said. This policy allowed the show’s coordinators to submit pieces.

A total of 89 pieces were submitted by 53 artists, Muselmann wrote in an email to The Herald. Of these, 57 pieces from 45 artists were accepted into the show, she wrote.

Lichtman said she was looking for a student’s “strong personal voice” and “fairly fluent feeling for the language of the medium” when selecting pieces for the show. When assigning the awards, the jurors picked pieces that showed the most “ambition,” Lichtman said, adding that some pieces “took a huge amount of effort.”

“I was very excited to see these very large paintings that were quite beautiful and very various in their style,” Lichtman said. “There’s really no one way that Brown students paint.”

Lichtman praised the exhibition’s sculptures, adding that sculptors have to make a lot of decisions, not only about which materials to use but also about how to set up their pieces.

Above the table of hors d’oeuvres at the reception dangled a rectangular congifuration of rocks hanging from transparent threads — a sculpture composed by Rory Macfarlane ’15 that won the competition’s first prize.

“What I really enjoy about that piece is watching people interact with it, whether or not people decide that it’s safe to walk underneath it,” Muselmann said of the sculpture.

A range of participants, including both undergraduates and graduate students across a variety of disciplines, submitted pieces, Muselmann said.

Daniel Sobor ’15, who is pursuing an independent concentration that combines visual arts with neuroscience,  had pieces in the show. He said his work revolves around the theme of “material obsession.”

The visual arts department tends to be “tight-knit,” Sobor said. Instead of the competitive environment one might expect from a juried exhibition, the atmosphere was collaborative.

Many of Brown’s “heavy-hitters” in the artistic community were represented in the exhibition, Sobor said, adding that he is excited to have his own work displayed with theirs.

Muselmann said she submitted two pieces both of which were admitted into the show, including a video that won third place. Though she has had work in the show in the past, this was the first time she submitted a video project, she added.

“It was exciting for me to try a different medium and to see how video would interact with the paintings and the other still artworks that were in the show,” she said.



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