From abstraction to Instagram: Juried Student Exhibition of 2018

By Carolyn Hauk ’21

On Friday, March 30, the Schmucker Art Gallery hosted its annual Juried Student Exhibition, featuring over 100 pieces created and submitted by students. From works depicting Instagram-worthy breakfast foods to breathtaking landscapes to abstract sculptures, this exhibition was a true embodiment of the creativity and talent of Gettysburg College’s students. I found myself absorbed in every still-life, abstract painting, and photograph displayed in the gallery––and the turn-out alone spoke for itself.

An audience at the Juried Student Exhibition, 2018. (Submitted Photo)

This year’s Juror was Nestor Armando Gil, a distinguished artist with works displayed throughout the United States and internationally. Gil, a professor at Lafayette College, teaches courses from studio art to art in neuroscience. Along with 50 pieces on display in the gallery, Gil’s own exhibition titled “Enjambre” is currently at Schmucker.

His installment focuses on shifts in location, place, and home through depicting inner-tubes on paper and using it as a medium for his sculpture. They come to symbolize a way to get from place to place, a floating device that metaphorically keeps us afloat during change. At the end of his speech, Gil remarked that each piece in the gallery also came to symbolize an inner-tube in unique ways.

In my own conversation with Gil, I asked how could he possibly choose four winners from such a wide array of talent. He began by saying that each piece on the wall deserved to be there and selecting the winners was such a long, difficult process because he, too, was amazed by every work of art.

But there were two major factors that played a role in his selection: One of them was whether or not a piece seemed to emit its own energy. A painting depicting a house, for example, could just be depicting a house until it gives off its own “fire” ––as Gil puts it. The second factor was craftsmanship, the meticulous attention to every detail and the overall process of creating an original piece.

With that in mind, I took the opportunity to speak with Daniella Snyder, who won second place for her photograph “Piazza della Murato.” Snyder said she took this photo when she was abroad in Florence during the fall. Of course, one would expect that photographs taken in Italy would feature its scenic streets and architecture. But instead, Snyder’s piece captures an old Italian woman walking down a sidewalk, with blue light from a tiled roof casting down on her curved back.

Snyder admitted that the piece was originally a study of geometric shapes for her digital photography class––and this is evident in the shadows casting linear shapes on the street. We see the energy of her piece in capturing the essence of being in the right place at the right time. Snyder describes her waiting in this spot for someone to walk by and using her artistic eye to notice that the elderly Italian woman was the perfect subject–– the craftsmanship of a photographer.

There is nothing in this piece that does not feel necessary or out of place. The linear shadows on the sidewalk, the mysterious blue light cast onto a seemingly marbled wall, the intense curvature of the woman’s back, even the idea of her being in the center of the picture (something that is risky in any artistic composition) makes this piece artistically accomplished.

“Piazza della Murate” by Daniella Snyder on display at the Juried Student Exhibition, 2018. (Photo Submitted)

Aside from art captured abroad, several pieces at the exhibition capture the zeitgeist of 2017. Many pieces included political statements such as “Untitled” by Angelique Acevedo which shows a flag “pouring” out of a faucet attached to the United States of America. Some pieces dug into the abstract like “Tree Pod” by Christopher Paulus, a sculpture of a tree turned into an unspecified creature that won First Prize and a painting characterized by heavy smears of paint in neutral colors called “Hidden Path” by Yirui Jah (who received an honorable mention). Other pieces playfully transformed food-as-art on Instagram to actual art in “Instagram for Breakfast” by Emma Mugford, who received Third Place for this piece. Khun Minn Ohn’s photograph titled “Family” received an honorable mention for the way he artistically portrays the amorous connection between family members and kinship. After attending this year’s exhibit as a first-year, I encourage the artists here at Gettysburg to continue to create art and I call upon those who appreciate their work as much as I do to attend events such as this, because it’s amazing what we students are capable of.

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