By Ryan Diminick / Staff Writer
Paintings and drawings adorn the walls. Pedestals are evenly spaced throughout the room. Some hold ceramics and some hold one-of-a-kind covers for classic novels.
One piece that sticks out is a series of three photographs. Each depicts everyday objects seen through a lens covered with rain drops. Next to these photographs is a small sign that reads “BEST IN SHOW OVERALL.”
Although the styles of the pieces are different, they all share one thing in common. They are student creations.
Visual and Performing Art (VAPA) student pieces at Raritan Valley Community College are on display at the 11th Annual Art Students Juried Exhibition in the school’s Art Gallery, located near the Atrium Lounge. The show features pieces from Fall 2013-Fall 2014 and runs through Nov 25.
Eight awards were given out for the show: one for "Best in Show Overall" and seven for "Best Overall" in their respective category.
The students who won Best in Show are Steven Sitrin, Ceramics; Fiona McCormack, Painting; Joanne Stoy, Photography; Jeffrey Kolvites, Drawing; Casey Landers, Foundations; Rais Ahmed, Graphic Design; and Jessica Innamorato, Sculpture.
RVCC art professor Darren McManus coordinated the show, and Ned Drew, graphic design coordinator at Rutgers University-Newark, was the guest juror.
Drew’s responsibilities include selecting the pieces and choosing the winners. On average, the Annual Art Students Juried Exhibition has about 100 pieces each year.
The Art Gallery exhibits another student art show in the spring, the Student Art Exhibition. However, VAPA professors solely select the pieces in that show.
“In the springtime, faculty will choose the work from the students, bring it down to the gallery and install it,” McManus said. “The students just have to provide the work. This show is the opposite. The students are responsible for filling out the submission forms, actually physically bringing their work to the gallery and, in a strange way, curating their own work because they can only submit three pieces.
“It’s a good process. It also establishes really quickly that not everyone is going to like your work. A lot of kids get work rejected by this. Some take it with a grain of salt. Others get bent out of shape. It’s part of being an artist. Not everybody is going to like your work. I think the acceptance and rejection process is built into it. It’s a learning tool.”
Diane Resende describes feeling excited when she heard her three pieces, titled “The Screw Head,” “The Tomato” and “The Acorn,” won Best in Show Overall.
“I was shocked and elated,” she said. “Any one of the other art pieces there could have won. So for me to win this award, among such talent, is an achievement that words just can’t describe.”
Casey Landers, who won Best Overall Foundation with “Contrast of Hue”, said, “I am humbled and this whole experience has been refreshing in that it gave me some validation in the current direction I seem to be headed in with art. I have a great amount of respect for everyone involved in making the show possible.”
Joanne Stoy, who won won Best Overall Photography with “Lots of Luck”, said, “This is the first time I have submitted a photograph for any juried show. I know the photography students at Raritan Valley Community College are very good and are tough competition. I am very excited and honored to have won Best in Show for Photography.”
Awards included a gift card to an art supply vendor and a certificate.
McManus says that attending the exhibit not only benefits art students, but the public and students who are not art majors too.
“It’s important,” he said. “You might see work that strikes a chord in you.” He also mentions that visiting the Art Gallery can introduce one to the art community.
According to McManus, every year the number of visitors to the show increases. “We have people that just wander in,” he said. “A lot of people don’t know that the work is from students.”
Art Gallery hours are Mondays and Wednesdays, 3-8 p.m.; Tuesdays, 10 a.m.-3 p.m.; Thursdays, 10 a.m.-6 p.m.; and Fridays, 1-4 p.m.