By Robert Johnson Jr.
Arts & Features Editor
Framingham State University students and staff members filled the Mazmanian Art Gallery Jan. 28 to observe the work on display as part of a reception for the Gallery’s Annual Juried Student Exhibition.
The exhibition featured art of many types – paintings, sculptures, and photographs – which were contributed by 22 students. Each piece was juried by the event’s guest curator, Sam Toabe, the director of University Hall Gallery at UMass Boston.
“You know, this is the first time I organized one of these juried student exhibitions, because it’s my first year doing this job,” said Ellie Krakow, professor of art and director of the gallery. “But, in my mind, it’s just a really wonderful opportunity to get to invite people from all over the campus – this show is open to art majors, art minors, and anyone else who does creative work, all over the campus.
“It’s just such a nice opportunity, too, to get to see work that people have been doing that often just happens in the studio, and then goes into the portfolio, and then goes home, and instead, we get to have it showcased here and that’s really amazing,” Krakow added.
Rose Piz, a senior, was one of those students who showcased their pieces in the exhibition with her painting, “Flower Vase.”
“I created ‘Flower Vase’ within a class, and the idea was to make a textural piece,” Piz said. “I love flowers, so it just came to me like that and I knew the flowers had different textures, different looks, different dimensions, so I thought it would work really well.
“I’m less of a painter and more of a sculptor, so, it was a little hard for me. But, it definitely pushed my boundaries of [comfort],” Piz said.
Isaac Vu, another senior, contributed a rather festive piece in the form of “Celebration,” a painting that greets the viewer with three balloons of the number six, forming “666” in the process.
“It [‘Celebration’] was more of a ‘Why not?’-type thing. I wanted to do something that can display my technique and I wanted to do something that matched my personality and what I perceive in what I create,” Vu said. “I just wanted to make something that was kind of funny, not overtly funny, but kind of like a, ‘Oh, I see that. I’ll chuckle’ – type thing. I also had the gallery in mind while making it.
“It’s a piece where I want someone to be like, ‘Oh, I wasn’t expecting a piece like that to be in the gallery,’ kind of like destroying the norms [that are associated] with any type of gallery in a museum,” Vu added.
One of the heavier – and more unorthodox – pieces of the exhibition came courtesy of Cassia Maguire, a senior, with her piece, “Drained,” made from carved soap.
“Over the past five years, I have both noticed and been affected by an increase in violent acts where someone kills or harms others in the name of completing their manifesto or hope for a better cause,” Maguire wrote in the commentary accompanying the piece. “Chances are, you have, too.
“I’d say it took me 10 hours, collectively,” said Maguire, regarding the creative process. “It would be [done] in bits and pieces because the soap itself would almost start to melt a little bit if it got too hot, so I’d have to take breaks. Otherwise, the soap would be sticking to the different sculpture tools. That, and I also needed to give my head a break to be able to step back and see where I needed to tweak it.”
As this was a juried exhibition, students entered their works to compete alongside others for cash prizes. Three students were awarded for their entries mid-way through the reception.
“It really is an amazing show of student artwork,” said Krakow. “I was talking to the guest juror [Toabe], and it was a really, really difficult selection for him – he wanted to leave a lot of space in the gallery so that each of the pieces that were included could really have room to breathe and be very professional, and I think he did a beautiful job selecting works.
“I just want to pass on that comment from the guest juror that it was like ‘a cornucopia of wonderful works that could be in a show, and this amazing outpouring of enthusiasm and talent of our campus,’” Krakow said.
The third-place award was given to Roberto Stephen Rojas, a freshman, for his piece, “Como La Flor: Selena,” an oil painting of the late Tejano pop musician Selena Quintanilla.
“I sense a kind of connection to her because since I was little, I used to listen to her songs and read a lot about her life and what happened to her, and knowing how things went in her life, especially with her family and her career,” Rojas said.
“It kind of made me inspired, and also sad because she died at a young age of 23, but she’s still like a star to me. Even though she passed away, she’s an inspiration, not only for a painter like myself, but also for someone to do anything like art. I just love her.”
Second place went to junior Erin Kapurch’s oil-based clay sculpture, “Socks,” which genuinely shocked Kapurch at the ceremony.
“I mean, it was an assignment in class,” Kapurch said. “It was really fun to do – I didn’t know how I was going to make clay look like fabric, and that’s the whole point of the assignment. It’s difficult to do that and it’s supposed to stretch your imagination and teach you how to work with the material. That’s the only time we worked with that clay in the class, and so, it was my favorite project by far, and that’s why I submitted it.”
Perhaps, the most surprising result, according to the winner’s reaction, was senior Amadine Muniz’s entry, “Blooming,” a set of clay pots, taking the first-place prize.
“I’m still developing as an artist and a lot of the ideas that my work center around are femininity and the female body, and I take a lot of inspiration from the female body … skin, the folds of skin, goosebumps, and female genitalia and such, and how I can work that into my pieces of art,” Muniz said.
“The female body is a vessel for life and my pieces are vessels themselves, because I want them to be functional and I want them to be interacted with regularly by people, so they have to be able to carry things within them to be touched and interacted with,” Muniz added.
Krakow said, “I think this is a really cool chance for people to get to have their first exhibition and the Gallery is such a nice space and you see your work differently when it hangs in the gallery – it sort of transforms the significance of it or the scale of it.”