Light streamed in from the windows in the cafeteria at Raritan Valley Community College early in the morning on Nov. 16, as The Phi Theta Kappa Honor Society (PTK) displayed and placed artworks for sale. The works were community-submitted, ranging in medium and style, under the theme “Beauty in The Eye of The Beholder,” to foster a conversation on beauty and vulgarity in art with the audience and students on campus.
Lena Hadler, president of PTK, looked over the artwork that spanned the corner of the cafeteria. She smiled when she recounted the night before, during setup.
“I realized last night as we placed everything together, staying late into the night, that the reaction from everyone was how amazing it all turned out,” said Hadler. “It was really difficult because people could submit whatever they wanted, sketches, pictures, anything. But the feedback so far has been people really seeing the art as interesting, that there were so many ways of making art, and showing what they like.”
PTK changes officers every year, as people come and go from RVCC; however, in previous years they had not done a community-based program such as this. In previous years PTK had done an outreach and other student-focused events; however, most of the artworks that were submitted came from a large range of people, such as parents, teachers and independent artists, instead of only art students, though students were especially encouraged to submit works of which they were proud.
Within the gallery itself, wooden screens held up sketches and painted collages, while oil and acrylic paintings were propped on easels and chairs, ranging from color to central idea. A teacher-submitted painting, a copy of a selfie taken off a phone, stood stark in a sun beam while students milled around to stare at colorful surrealist drawings. A group of visiting high school students grinned and gossiped over a Game of Thrones piece utilizing Pointillism, talking about spoilers and favorite characters, while others thoughtfully stood next to realistic paintings of world leaders.
In a secluded corner, signs were displayed for viewer discretion, where works that may be deemed inappropriate were held.
“In the past,” Hadler explained, “the Art Department has had to take down artworks due to content, for being inappropriate or being offensive, but we have a closed off area for those kinds of works.”
The main table held donation jars, since the day of the art show fell on Giving Day, when clubs can raise money, There were also several pieces of paper surveying students’ experiences ranging from favorites to what can be improved. While many of the art pieces were just for display to be returned or sold off later, some pieces were directly picked up and bought by those who really enjoyed them. Volunteers greeted any passersby, excited to show what the student body had to offer.
Edited by Zachary Nickl