Students experience real-world competitive art show with ‘Art Mandate’

Students experience real-world competitive art show with ‘Art Mandate’

Students experience real-world competitive art show with ‘Art Mandate’

Jakaya Smallwood, studio arts student (’23), standing beside recent art work in Gallery 42

Jakaya Smallwood, studio art student (’23), standing beside her artwork in Gallery 42

The UDC Art Program presents “Art Mandate” in Gallery 42. Featuring works created by art students between 2019-2022, it includes paintings, drawings, photography, printmaking, sculpture, ceramics, video, animation, graphic design and mixed media. It is the first time students have had an in-person gallery exhibition since the pandemic began.

“We enjoy designing art show posters and advertisements that are fresh, current and reflect the times,” said Daniel Venne, art professor. “The pandemic has introduced many new concepts and terms, like “social distancing.” Since we have all responded to mask mandates, it seemed logical that we ask the community to respond to our “Art Mandate.”

The image for the art show poster was created by art student Jhon Ochoa (’21), who made illustrations of unusual face masks that people created at the start of the pandemic. His illustrations, the exhibition title and the poster design all came together by considering how the COVID-19 crisis has brought out creativity.

“It’s a testament to survival and art,” said Venne.

Although the program has several art exhibitions in Gallery 42 each year, the annual student art exhibition is the largest. It is the one where they submit their best artwork, created throughout the year from all classes and all art disciplines taught within the program. A jury selects the work, a panel of judges reviews the submitted artwork, and the best pieces are chosen to represent the creative output.

Some art tackles isolation, anxiety, uncertainty and loss during the pandemic. Equally impressive are the artworks that look to the future, focus on hope, and the simple joy the art students found despite the global crisis.

“My owl art piece is a metaphor for how I plan to live my life,” said junior art program student Jakayla Smallwood. “Like the owl when it hunts, I will be grounded in wisdom and perseverance to conquer any given situation during my human experience, even in the darkest hours.”

Smallwood is also inspired by her fellow artists.

“I am delightfully impressed by how talented my UDC’s Art Program peers are,” she said. “They express their experiences in these trying times creatively and skillfully while demonstrating why art must be mandated.”

According to Venne, the student art exhibition is designed to give the community a sense of what students can create within their art, design, and photography classes.

“When you see the range of the artwork, you get a sense of the wide range of classes offered through the art program. You can also see the unique expression of students as individuals.”

The annual student art exhibition also allows students to experience the reality of a real-world competitive art show. The artwork must be of the highest quality and ready for professional gallery presentation to be accepted into the juried show.

Once the artwork is selected, the show is installed, and the judges meet again to choose the winning artwork for various categories, such as “Best Painting,” “Best Sculpture,” or “Best Photography.” Since they teach many different disciplines in the visual arts, there are several categories for winning an award from the jury.

If a student’s artwork is selected for the show, the student artist decides whether they wish to sell the piece. If so, they determine the price themselves.

“In most art spaces, the gallery’s proprietor will take a percentage if the work is sold; we don’t do that. The student receives 100% from any art sale here,” said Venne.

The professors in the Art Program believe that having work accepted into the show is a great way to build a résumé of professional exhibitions. Selling a work of art also means that students can expand their connections to collectors and patrons.

“During the past two years, students had their studio art classes online yet still could create fantastic, professional artwork,” said Venne. “Imagine making a painting or sculpture at your kitchen table — and then imagine that you made it look effortless and beautiful.”

The faculty also quickly adapted to the online teaching environment.

“When the pandemic started, the professors had to quickly develop new teaching methods and encourage the students to become even more resourceful,” said Venne. “The beautiful work the students created in their classes is also a testament to extraordinary teaching under extraordinary circumstances.”

“Art Mandate” runs until May 4 in Gallery 42, Building 42, near room A-12. Gallery hours are 11 a.m. to 6 p.m., Monday through Thursday. The show is free and open to the public. In alignment with the University’s mandate, all attendees must present proof of COVID-19 vaccination and wear a mask while on campus.

 “Art Mandate” Winners

Etai Rogers-Fett (best printmaking)

Jonathan Fuentes (best graphic design)

Francis Ochoa (best illustration)

Wendy Vasquez (best photography)

Betty Laichena (best drawing)

Jakayla Smallwood (best painting)

Pegah Nejad (best sculpture)

Alexander Rumain (best ceramics)

Herberth Romero (guest juror selection, painting)