FIRST LOOK: Juried Student Art Show

Story by Debora Biasutti

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Inspired by Nicholas Cage, John Travolta, the movie “Face Off” and trippy narratives, UW-Eau Claire students Ben Larson and Michelle Chrzanowski created a book called “Oscillation,” which they silk-screened by hand in Larson’s basement.

“I was totally down with running with this idea, since I thought it was weird and fun and would be a good challenge to illustrate for me,” said Chrzanowski, a senior
illustration major.

Larson and Chrzanowski’s work will be one of the many submitted by students in the 54th annual Juried Student Art Show. The show is happening tonight starting at 7:30 p.m. in the Foster Gallery and the winners and recipients of art scholarships will be announced at 8 p.m.

Every year a different guest artist is asked to be the juror, who decides the artworks that will be on display in the gallery and which pieces will receive the awards. This year’s juror for the show is Charles Beneke, an associate professor of art at the University of Akron in Ohio.

It’s Beneke’s first time in Eau Claire and he said that it has been a great time, with both faculty and students being very welcoming.

“I had the opportunity to visit with students while looking at some of my prints and really appreciated the questions and feedback that they gave me about my work,” he said.
Although this is the third year that Chrzanowski has submitted her work to the juried show, she said she never creates something seeking outside validation. Rather Chrzanowski only produces a piece that she feels strong about, she said.

“The process of creating work is always a roller coaster ride of feeling good about it; then struggling, then feeling good again, then hating it and maybe in the end learning to love it,” she said.

When judging, Beneke said he looks for work that is conceptually challenging in which students were making informed decisions and using form, composition and media to effectively address their content. What he found interesting about the student pieces is that very often it was difficult to determine whether the work was from beginning, intermediate, or advanced level students, Beneke said.

“I found all of the work to be complex and challenging, a reflection of the high standards set for students and their willingness to rise to meet these goals,” he said.

Having your piece judged and exposed at the Foster Gallery can bring benefits academically and professionally, Chrzanowski said. It also looks good in the resume and exposes your hard work, she said.

“It’s a tangible way to document your work beyond academia,” she said. “It’s also interesting to see your work in multiple contexts.”

Beneke said that based upon the time that he spent with students and faculty and the work submitted for the Juried Student Art Show, he thinks the university has a fantastic art program.

“The faculty is an active, collegial group of driven artists and educators and the students are hard working and clearly, deeply engaged,” he said.

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