Array of student work featured in university gallery

The 60th Annual Juried Student Show showcases a variety of pieces selected by a nationally known artist

More stories from Hillary Smith


Photo by Kendall Ruchti

Two of Cuomo’s pieces are among the 63 total featured works.

With no formal theme, the student work on display in the UW-Eau Claire Foster Gallery ranges from richly painted portraits to quirky shoes decorated with hot glue and spray paint.

In the 60th Annual Juried Student Show, students of all majors had the opportunity to submit up to three pieces of work, which was then assessed by a juror and narrowed down to the ones that would be featured.

Foster Gallery Director Jill Olm said the show provides an opportunity for students to perform at a higher level — their pieces are expected to be presented at standards set by professional artists.

It also gives students’ art the chance to reach more people. Olm said without the show, many pieces might not go beyond a classroom, dorm or apartment. In the show, other students, faculty and community members can see and connect with the art, whether or not they know the artist personally.

“I think students visiting the show will be both surprised and impressed by the quality and diversity of work that is being made by their peers,” Olm said. “I also hope it helps to inspire them.”

Though Olm said there are more similarities than differences in the show from year to year, she did notice some recurring themes in the works chosen to be featured. Many pieces told and reworked stories and narratives; the human figure was also a point of focus in many mediums including drawing, painting and photography.

Isabella Cuomo, a sophomore art student with a minor in French, had two pieces featured in the show, along with a joint project done with a partner. Her individual works were both portraits drawn in colored pencil.

Throughout her pieces, Cuomo said she finds inspiration from the common focus of the human figure.

“I’m really into faces and the human body, I guess I just find it very interesting and expressive in the way how everyone is different,” Cuomo said. “Not one person has the same kind of structure, especially with the face.”

Cuomo said her creation process starts with taking photos of the people around her and choosing the size of the portrait as well as what color to draw it in.

In addition to the joint project, Cuomo submitted three pieces, all portraits of her friends, which she said she chose because she was pleased with how they turned out and they were the best work she had done yet.

Though she does not have an emphasis in her studies yet, Cuomo said this semester she started painting and learning about illustrating. While proud of and happy with the work she has done so far, Cuomo said she is looking forward to the future, too.

“I feel like I need to explore a lot more,” Cuomo said. “Right now I feel like I’m just in the process of finding myself and what I want to go into making. I think this summer I’m going to really expand what I do and try new stuff.”

Cuomo was one artist of the 73 who also submitted works. There were 172 entries in total, of which 63 final pieces were selected to exhibit in the gallery by Deborah Rockman, the juror for the show.

Rockman teaches at Kendall College of Art and Design of Ferris State University in Michigan and is the author of the drawing textbook Eau Claire students use during their studies. There are no set parameters for jurors to follow in the selection process, but Rockman wrote a statement explaining her process of selection for the submitted pieces.

Some of the criteria she considered included craftsmanship, technical skill, presentation, major and whether or not the piece seemed independently created or assignment driven.

“I looked for engagement in the world and current events. I welcomed informed risk-taking and intention. I agonized over particularly decisions,” Rockman wrote. “And ultimately, you can see the work I selected.”

The show runs until April 26 and there is also a reception on April 13 from 6-8 p.m. where awards and scholarships will be announced. The work will be on display during the Foster Gallery’s normal hours: Monday through Friday from 10 a.m. – 4:30 p.m. and Saturday and Sunday from 1-4:30 p.m.