Best Student Work Displayed

El Vaquero Staff Writer

Ninety-eight student works of art, ranging from paintings to ceramics and design to photography, are on display in the Annual Student Art Exhibition.

The works, all of which are by GCC art students, were selected and juried by Occidental College art instructor Mary Beth Heffernan.

“Mary Beth selected the work that strikes her as [worthy of] being in a show,” said Annabelle Aylmer, GCC art gallery director.

The art was placed into categories including beginning and advanced ceramics, drawing, design, painting, photography, 3D design, graphic design, illustration, media arts, printmaking and sculpture.

The student work is certainly striking, especially as the visitor first enters the gallery and sees a face with a bold look and color combination titled, “self-portrait-green.”

This portrait placed first in the advanced painting category. It uses a green and burnt sienna oil paint harmony to form the self-portrait bust of artist Susie Goliti, 39, art major. She decided to paint herself when the person she was supposed to paint did not show up to her evening advanced painting class.

“I had done a self-portrait before, but this time I wanted to do a realist portrait in color, but I wanted to use only a minimal palette.

So, I decided to use secondary colors to paint with,” Goliti said. “All of my art education has been at GCC. I have found a home here, and I always want to be connected.” All of the works were from students that took art classes on campus between spring 2002 and spring 2003, including Stephanie Ortega who submitted her painting and won first place in the beginning painting category.

The style of Ortega’s piece is painted in an impressionistic fashion with bright reds and yellows to give the illusion of fiery skin. “Lone Star” is a “painting of a fellow artist who has overcome many obstacles on his path to self discovery. The blur of impressionistic brush strokes delineating his facial features convey a suspension of clarity, clarity of the mind and focused thought and the clarity of soul and un-muddled intuition,” Ortega said.

Heffernan completed the judging by May 1 and selected 98 pieces – of roughly 175 submissions – for the show, Aylmer said.

Student winners received prize money and gift certificates. The entry fee funded the prizes, and sponsors such as the GCC art department and bookstore, Aardvark, Laguna Clay, McPhersons, Swains Graphics, Art Store and Virgils also assisted.

“The first-place prize equals approximately $150 in cash and/or prizes,” said Aylmer.

The advanced photography winner, Aurora Meneghello, uses a connection between nature and humanity to achieve her win the photo category and collect her prize.

A 16-by-20-inch black-and-white photograph, by Meneghello, shows a delicate patterned dress blowing in the wind on a mountainside. Titled “Regret,” the dress is loosely tied to a large tree with extended roots, and although there is no physical body to fill out the dress, the presence of someone is sensed. The first-place photograph in the beginning photo section also incorporates empty space with the overwhelming feeling of someone’s presence.

Babak Bassir’s untitled photograph is a black-and-white print of a single, opened potato chip bag underneath a set of outdoor tables. The 11-by-14-inch still life focuses on the bag by placing it on the forefront of the shot and allowing the large shadow to become what the trash is – invasive. While the photographs placed real objects on the paper, some artists developed projects that forced imagination into realism.

Brenda Trujillo’s untitled 8-by-10-inch pencil rendering on toned paper depicts an emotional man with a gauge cut down his chest, a knife in one hand, his heart in the other and a separate head coming out of his back.
“He opened himself up and tears out his heart. The woman [coming from his back] is his soul. She is there to calm him of his depression,” Trujillo, 19, art major said.

As with many other artists in the show, this was the first art class she had taken, and this particular assignment “was meant to shock the teacher,” Trujillo said. She wanted to see where she stood in the art world, so she entered her work in the show; she was very surprised to have won first place in her first GCC student art show.

The advanced drawing category brought out an amazing first-place charcoal drawing.

“Señora De Carbonera” sits in the near back of the gallery and waits arrival. She is a beauty queen with doubts; as she pouts, her mouth slings her floral bouquet into her lap and wears her tiara unevenly in tangled hair.

The 18-by-24-inch nude done in charcoal by Saharat Tantivaranyoo captures the essence of a young woman in a seemingly positive position, yet she looks as if she wants to leave it all behind. The techniques used in the piece show strong knowledge of shadow and human anatomy. Both the first-place winners in the printmaking and beginning design categories use objects other than the human form for expression.

A floral two-color print took home the first-place prize in printmaking. The small 10-by-8- inch piece, by artist Minoru Terada and titled “Sun flower,” uses a gradating purple background and a true black ink to produce a print that allows the fragile sunflower to seem strong against the light background.

The beginning design winner also used a flower to show feeling.

“Deadhead” is the title of artists’ Sandra Michelle Aguilar’s design piece. The watercolor flower represents two things on its 20-by-15-inch paper. The first is the simple design of a flower, as the artist uses a basic petal form in orange, a simple yellow dot for the pollen, and a thin green tube for its stem. The second is death, for the words RIP are written on each petal in black ink. The light background and simplicity of the art are refreshing, airy and light.

On the opposite end in weight, color and materials were the first-place ceramics pieces.

Geri Hartfield uses good juxtaposition between the uneven core of her ceramic piece and the even lines running around the body. Her piece “Labyrinth” is a stoneware vessel that has the power and strength to capture and hold the onlooker’s attention by using its awkward shape combined with its clever title.

“It is meant to be unfamiliar in its abstract form,” said Hartfield, “but also vaguely reminiscent of a human figure. The surface labyrinth represents the unpredictable path of our lives, which often seems to have no meaning but when viewed as a whole, might reveal some beauty.” The advanced ceramic piece also pulls in the visitor with its interesting shape and concept.

A green glaze covers the body of a ceramic headless turtle, titled “It’s My Nature,” in a smooth draping that reminds one of a real turtle shell. Standing atop the shell is a small brown scorpion and a piece of driftwood on stilts. Artist Stacy Keil brings nature together in stacked form and puts it into the perspective that all things in life are connected.

The student art exhibit portrays something for everyone, with a variety of pieces. The show will be on display in the GCC art gallery through June 6.