By Christian Rosario / Editor-In-Chief
While many artists have had their pieces displayed at shows this year in Raritan Valley Community College’s Art Gallery, only one honors student art that RVCC faculty members have recognized as outstanding. The resulting show offers a unique experience not only for the student artists, who often get to see their pieces outside of the work environment and in an art gallery for the first time, but also for students who are not part of the art program.
Because of the large amount of pieces selected, the Student Art Exhibition is broken into two parts. The first part took place from March 28-April 11 and featured pieces from 2D design, ceramics, color theory, drawing, illustration, interior design and printmaking classes. There were 278 pieces at the show. The second part, which opened Friday March 18 and lasts until May 2, features pieces from 3D design, sculpture, painting, photography, graphic design and sound and video classes.
“The Student Art Exhibition has benefited students in the past in so many ways,” said Darren McManus, who has coordinated the event ever since he was hired as a professor at RVCC in 2006. ”The biggest is getting them acclimated with what actually goes into a show. When you put a piece into a gallery it’s different than seeing it in the work environment. There’s a certain satisfaction with that. It engages them with what it means to be an artist.”
Students with art featured in the exhibit also expressed the benefits of having their work displayed in the gallery. “It benefits me because it shows my talent. At the same time, I’m competing visually among the other great designs on the wall just like in the real world,” said Gerardo Melara. “It’s like being part of the designer's community, which helps me to realize that I must be doing something good. It's also my most vulnerable moment because people can either like it or not, and it becomes a great opportunity to get some feedback.”
“It is an opportunity to showcase pieces for friends and family to see,” said Atulya Chaganty. “It is not only a culmination of progress, but also a chance to share a time and space with other great creative thinkers who also understand, struggle, and succeed through the design process.”
As to the benefits that viewing an art exhibit brings to students not involved in the art program, McManus said, “It’s important to be around art. Students who aren’t in the art program should attend the Student Art Exhibit because of the nature of visual art. It requires awareness. If people don’t look at art, they’re not affected by it.”
Some of the pieces may require the viewer to think critically about it. They may have meaning attached to them that isn't immediately apparent. “I want the viewer to think about composition and color relationships; to see volume and structure; to feel that the subject exists in its own separate space,” said Jessica Innamorato.
“I want them to feel inspired, to understand that in the art world there are many ways to express yourself, and to communicate your ideas effectively to make an impression that will remain in people's mind,” said
An artist's piece may also provide a medium for them to express their individuality. “Creating abstract sculpture is the way in which I process the complexity of the natural world. My work is a way for me to communicate honestly with others,” said Sarah Schleer.
“My work is a window to who I am and means that I have my own personal opinion and viewpoint that I can translate into a form that others can view and hopefully find pleasure in,” said Chaganty.
Considerable work goes not only into creating the student pieces, but setting up the gallery as well. Before the opening, the walls have to be spackled and painted, pedestals and student pieces have to be brought in, labels for the pieces have to be made and every piece has to be individually lit, which according to McManus, may be the toughest part. Every show is individually lit and usually requires an assistant on the ground communicating with McManus as he’s adjusting the lighting on a piece.
According to McManus, between 150-170 students have pieces at the show. Some students have more than one piece chosen. All of the pieces date back one academic year and have to be made in a class to qualify. The Student Art Exhibition hours are Mondays, 3-8 p.m.; Tuesdays, 10 a.m. 3 p.m.; Wednesdays, 3-8 pm; Thursdays, 10 a.m.-6 p.m.; and Fridays 1-4 p.m. More student artwork may be seen at the Visual and Performing Arts's Student Art Gallery blog.
This article was edited on April 23, 2014.