By LEIGH WILLIAMS
“Parents, thank you for sending us your gems,” said art department Chairwoman, Carole Garmon. On April 10 at the opening of the Annual Juried Student Exhibition. As gallery visitors found, the student work featured did not fail to represent the same dazzling qualities as the “gems” that created them.
Paul Ryan, art professor at Mary Baldwin College, served as the juror for this event. Faced with a plethora of submissions from the University of Mary Washington’s community of artists, Ryan’s job was no easy task due to both the number and skill of the entries.
In his juror’s statement, Ryan said, “I was looking for work that represented the diversity of media, ideas, and aesthetic approaches that the studio art program at UMW embraces.”
The task of installing the sixth gallery exhibit of this academic year fell to the students of professor Rosemary Jesionowski’s bookmaking class.
“The installation was a challenge, but the faculty and students did a great job of bringing it together,” said art and art history professor Joseph DiBella.
While the gallery is more packed than usual, what it takes up in space, it makes up for in quality and substance. Each work captures a different element of UMW’s art department through a multitude of observant eyes. “I have been here for 36 years, this has to be one of the most diversified, strong, professional exhibitions we’ve had,” said DiBella.
The wide range of mediums housed in the exhibition makes it hard to narrow down a fan favorite, but a few did manage to stand out from the rest. Due to its size and medium, Robert Luther’s “Pit in Pig” was an obvious show stealer. It was constructed from pig intestines, olive pits and leather, and if it weren’t for the unconventional materials, one might mistake the work for a chic loft chandelier.
“I was looking for work that represented an authentic experimental engagement on the part of the artist,” said Ryan. In keeping with this statement, visitors were also treated to visual delights that sought to reinvent more conventional mediums. From handmade books, to photographic prints, paintings, drawings and sculptures, there seemed to be something for every taste.
“You can really see everyone’s unique style,” said senior art history and historic preservation double major, Lara Belfield, of the exhibition. In the chaos of the day-to-day it’s easy to become desensitized to the value of daily surroundings. While the works currently featured in the duPont gallery are only a small representation of the student talent that permeates the campus, they serve as a reminder of the tremendous value the arts have to offer.