Student Artists Discuss Stories, Messages Behind Pieces in Art Gallery Exhibtion

Student artists with work displayed at the “2015 RVCC Independent Study Students Exhibition” in Raritan Valley Community College's Art Gallery participated in an artist talk on Jan. 30 to discuss the stories and messages behind their pieces.

Student photographer Christianne Ebel explained “David’s Story,” her mixed media and video installation. David, the subject of the pictures, was a photo journalist for 15 years who lived a self-sufficient lifestyle and squatted on primitive land in the Pine Barrens. Although David had no money, his house included self-sufficient technology, such as solar panels and a gravity sink.

One day, Ebel met a 21-year-old named Justin who helped install David’s roof. She remembers thinking that, at the time, he seemed like a “decent guy.” However, a few months later, Justin and David had got into a fight over a horse and Justin executed David with a shotgun. Justin is now serving life in prison.


"David and Justin," by Christianne Ebel.

Ebel said she feels sorry for Justin because he was a young man whose life is ruined. She is often troubled by the thought of what led Justin to make the worse decision of his life. Her pictures are meant to commemorate David for his unique lifestyle and personality.

Jessica Stamler and Logan Horvath talked about their interior design projects, emphasizing that interior design was more than “just working with furniture.” Most of their time, they said, is spent on a computer.

Interior design requires architectural background as well. Interior designers have to consider the space of a room, the dimension of windows and doors and—possibly the biggest obstacle—complying with constantly changing building codes.

“Abstract Art House,” by Jessica Stamler, digital rendering, created Fall 2014.

“Abstract Art House,” by Jessica Stamler, digital rendering, created Fall 2014.

Phillip Lee Smith talked about the message behind his religious themed paintings. Jesus is the subject of several of his paintings. One of his paintings, “Boxcar to nowhere,” depicted sick looking people on a train going to Auschwitz.

“I wanted to do something a little quirky, a little off, to make you think ‘what’s going on,’” he said. He describes his paintings as a combination of abstract and realism and describes himself as a “message painter.”

Noelle Gostyla—whose photographs included inkjet print, gelatin silver print, c-print and silver halide print—takes a different approach than Smith. Instead of making political or personal statements, she said, her work is meant to present objects as they really are. All of her pictures are untitled.


“Untitled,” by Noelle Gostyla, print from original negative, created Fall 2014.

The annual Independent Study Students Exhibition highlights the artwork of students in the Visual and Performing Arts who have participated in independent study projects from the Spring, Summer and Fall 2014 Semesters. Art students in independent study work with individual instructors on advanced projects.

The artists in the exhbition are Sandra Benscoter (ceramic & granite, ceramic), Val Boltan Clay (clay/mixed media, clay), Christianne Ebel (multimedia/video, Van Dyke print), Carlos Gonzalez-Rios (video installation & performance), Noelle Gostyla (inkjet print, gelatin silver print, c-print, silver halide print), Logan Horvath (digital), Rebecca Insabelia (silkscreen on paper, silkscreen and watercolor), Steven Sitrin (porcelain, stoneware), Kaitlyn Smith (stoneware), Phillip Lee Smith (acrylic on canvas, acrylic on panel, mixed media on canvas, mixed media on panel) and Jessica Stamler (digital).

The Independent Study Students Exhibition was open from Jan. 30 to Feb. 13. Darren McManus and Virginia Smith coordinated the exhibition.

Christian Rosario
Editor-In-Chief (2013-2015) / The Record
Christian Rosario is the 2013-2015 Editor-In-Chief, website administrator and founder of He majors in Communication Studies at Raritan Valley Community College. He welcomes students of all majors to contribute their talent to The Record.