FHS student wins juried exhibition

(Kari Long's oil piece on canvas "Untitled." By Corey McFeeley)

Although Framingham High School senior Elle Reck is busy applying for colleges, she took first place in the annual Student Art Exhibition. Reck previously completed an oil painting class at FSU, making her eligible to apply.

Two of Reck’s acrylic paintings made it into the show, and her portrait, “Bantu Knots,” was the winner.

The subject was a female model Reck found on Tumblr. Reck painted her in the style of Realism, giving detailed attention to her facial features. The subject’s blended skin is juxtaposed with the scraped and subdued purple background. The background comes forward over the subject’s pink turtleneck, creating an impression of haze. The subject’s expression is both intense and calm, gazing directly into the eyes of the viewer.

“I find a model I really like and then I usually change it to how I want it. … I distort it – usually I exaggerate their facial features. Then I can also get away with, if I mess up the eye, I’ll be like, ‘Oh yeah that’s just how I do it,’” joked Reck.

Reck’s second painting on display was “Karisa & Karynne,” featuring two of her friends. She posed her friends with pillowcases on their heads, and sketched them in preparation for her painting. “I had this idea that I wanted to do something with insecurities and veils hiding insecurities,” said Reck.

Reck said there was a hidden meaning behind “Karisa & Karynne” regarding societal norms in history. “I love headdresses and I love the cultural things people debate about, like why girls can’t wear pants or not,” she said.

FSU senior Emily Bowling came in second with her watercolor series. Bowling had two watercolor paintings on display, both of which she created in the spring semester of 2015 during Professor Timothy McDonald’s watercolor class. The class served as her introduction to the style and technique of watercolor painting.

Bowling typically works in oil and acrylic, and said watercolor is one of the hardest mediums she has ever worked with. 

“It was so different from any other form of painting that I’ve tried. It’s super unforgiving. It’s really hard to get used to, and it takes forever to dry. It was really frustrating and hard at first, but I’m so glad I took that class,” said Bowling.

Bowling’s paintings depict quiet, warm-colored, nostalgic street scenes. “I went through my old family photos that my parents took from when me and my sister were kids and we used to go on vacation to the Caribbean a lot. My mom had a collection of film photos that she took, and I went through them, and I found photos that I really wanted to paint that really kind of, made me think back to how happy everything was at that time,” said Bowling.

She hopes to delve back into watercolor in the future.

The third-place prize was awarded to FSU senior Hannah Ferrante for her embroidery piece titled, “Sampler.” Although this tiny artwork is embroidered, Ferrante created it during her figure painting class.

“We had to do a self-portrait, so I decided to use embroidery instead of paint because I thought it was better conceptually. I am kind of working off of the history of samplers that late Victorian-era women did to prove that they were good domestic housewife material,” said Ferrante.

“Sampler” depicts the chest and torso of a female nude. The unusual cropping is similar to how many people today might take a nude picture to send. The figure’s absence of a face adds to the intriguing curiosity of the work.

“I made it the size of a phone too, just because I thought it better represented how we view other potential mates … like through dating apps,” Ferrante said.

The final student to be recognized at the exhibition opening was FSU junior Kierstyn Brady. Brady received an honorable mention for her ceramic nipple planters. Brady’s project started during a class when she created a single pinched pot. This led her to working throughout an entire semester to assemble her series of 14 total planters.

The planters were hung from the gallery ceiling by chains, and each one had a unique shape and decoration. Brady chose her designs based on how the glazes came out and the shape of her pots. “This was the first time I did ceramics, so I was surprised that I really liked it,” said Brady.

A number of other students had work on display, ranging from a hat manufacturing poster design to an eight-minute video parody of “The Office.”

Beth Kantrowitz of BK Projects, the juror for this year’s Student Art Exhibition, said, “It was really hard and overwhelming to decide what works to select because everything was really great. You must have an amazing art program here.”

Kantrowitz was amongst the event’s attendees, excited to hug and congratulate her chosen winners.