Studio arts exhibits students’ work

By Larissa Gula

2011 Studio Arts Student Exhibition

Studio Arts Students at… 2011 Studio Arts Student Exhibition

Studio Arts Students at Pitt

Frick Fine Arts Gallery

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People don’t always immediately take well to Grace Ginn’s photography — the pieces feature images of the body so close that sometimes it’s difficult to discern what body part is being shown.

“I’ve accepted that in order to make a piece successful for yourself, not everyone will be happy with it,” said Ginn, a senior majoring in studio arts. “Some people may find my work disturbing or hate it, but even that negative feedback is needed.”

Ginn — along with 26 other students — has an opportunity to show her artwork at the 2011 Studio Arts Student Exhibition, an annual presentation of students’ work hosted in the Frick Fine Arts buidling.

Each year, studio faculty select artwork that is best suited for display from submissions made by senior students. The faculty may also select artwork from their classes regardless of the level or major of their students. This year’s exhibit features 94 total pieces and takes up four rooms in the gallery.

“The exhibition is an opportunity for the students to present their work publicly and to defend it through gallery talks, which is ultimately participating in the profession of what we do as artists. Work sitting in the studio has no resonance until it is shared,” Delanie Jenkins, chairwoman and associate professor of the studio arts department, said in an e-mail.

Ginn’s photography sits on a sidewall in the exhibit and catches the eye’s attention because of its nature and topic. Ginn loves photographing the human body and thinks of photos as  “recordings of sculptures I’m creating with models,” in that she might manipulate the body by squeezing a particular part of skin or taking a close picture of two body parts together.

Ginn doesn’t necessarily view the negative responses of her photography as a bad thing.. .

“I think that’s what art, in a way, tries to do,” Ginn said. “It tries to get people thinking, get people to react, get them to think in a different way. It isn’t the same as the academic world.”

After this exhibit, Ginn will finish up her classes at Pitt before going to graduate school at Moore College of Art and Design in Philadelphia. for design.

Aside from explaining and defending their work, exhibiting pieces in this setting also gives students opportunity to show their art to collectors..

“Collectors have purchased works from exhibitions, and really seeing the work on the walls, in the elegance of the space, the work reaching a public — is quite a thrill,” department chairwoman Jenkins said. “The show reaches beyond campus and can help their career, and for some who won’t necessarily pursue art, it is still a significant accomplishment and marker. This exhibition is as significant as graduation for many students.”

Another senior considering a career in art is Benjy Blanco. The studio arts and English literature major has three pieces on display in the exhibit — a sculpture of a bushmaster snake in shattered wood, a video exploring Latino culture and a series of etchings mapping out iconic mythological events.

“Ultimately, the reason why I pursue art is surprisingly mechanical — here is where my talents lie,” Blanco said in an e-mail.

Blanco found his way into the field through a hobby. As a child, he created  his own toys, and he never gave up on the skill through high school and college. As a result, he continues to enjoy hand-on creations.

“I don’t necessarily see my future in the high-art, gallery-crawl scene — but as long as I’m making physical things, be it a trade or some form of teaching, I know I’ll be fulfilled because it’s the best expression of my natural skills,” Blanco said.

He plans to take a year off after completing college before attending graduate school to obtain education certificates.

One of the things in this show that he finds to be a change from the usual class routine is the feedback from the judges. Jenkins said that a panel of three to four judges from the studio arts department offer critiques and advice during the exhibition process.

“This is a capstone experience,” Jenkins said, explaining that some students have been in exhibits before while others have not, and that the exhibition is a highlight of the hard work students do as artists.

The critique-and-discussion process takes students out of the comfort of the classroom, Blanco said.

“Your work has to be able to stand on its own — it’s a little frightening but exhilarating to start engaging in this next step,” he said.