By Ryan O’Connell
Arts & Features Editor
The Mazmanian Art Gallery’s annual juried student exhibition showcased the work of 17 students from across the University, Jan. 24.
Submissions included charcoal drawings, ceramics, sculpture, and even fashion design from students in a range of majors. The juried show’s exhibits and three winners were picked by guest juror Soe Lin Post, the director of design at Wellesley College.
Of the three announced prizes, second-place winner Julia Parabicoli was awarded for “Book of B’s,” a mixed-media book, due to its content and tactile cover, according to Ellie Krakow, director of the Mazmanian Gallery.
Charlotte Jondrow also won a specialty award for her charcoal drawing “Chan-Fheidh’s Forest,” due to it aligning most closely with the yearly Arts & Ideas theme of “sustaining life, sustaining joy.”
Bella Ramirez, a freshman studio art major with a concentration in graphic design, submitted both “Breakfast” and “The View,” a charcoal on paper and line-art drawing respectively. She said “Breakfast” was drawn to satisfy an assignment in her drawing fundamentals class.
“I really had a fun time doing it,” she said. Ramirez added she enjoyed the assignment due to the requirement of taking an image and making it “really really big,” requiring her to focus on the details.
She said she was initially having trouble choosing a subject, but made the decision to adapt the black and white photo of her breakfast. “I zoomed it in and I thought it captured daily life,” she said.
Ramirez said she loves to cook at home, and the drawing is a reflection of everyday life for her. She added she draws a lot of artistic inspiration from her hobbies, such as figure skating.
She said she wishes she could have framed “Breakfast” in time for the show, but otherwise was very happy with the outcome of the piece. “My goal was to really expand on the details in looking at different textures, and seeing how it can make colors pop on the page,” she said.
Ramirez said has been drawing as long as she could remember.
“I really got into it in late middle school. I would draw on my iPad all the time. I’d get pencils out and doodle like everybody, and I got really really into it when I discovered the art program here,” she said.
Ramirez added she enjoyed the time investment it took to complete “Breakfast,” and said since she hadn’t had the class recently she felt a “void without creating that sort of stuff.” She said she still felt a sense of pressure when working on it, since a mistake would take a lot of time to fix.
She said “The View” was another assignment she enjoyed working on, since she focused on incorporating pointillism and other techniques. “We could use any medium, and that wasn’t one I had explored. And I really like it,” she said.
Ramirez said she enjoyed seeing her artwork in a gallery for the first time, and the sense of community she felt from seeing so many artists represented in the juried show.
Zen Crosby, a sophomore studio art major with a concentration in ceramics, had two pieces included in the juried show: “Vase From Space” and “Fairy Catcher.”
“‘Vase From Space’ is a happy accident,” Crosby said. “I threw a form on the wheel, nicked it, and it got ruined. But I was like, ‘This is still a really good piece of clay,’ so I started building on it and I got really weird with it.”
Crosby said they glazed it in a wild fashion, beginning the process with primary colors which became muted through firing the piece, resulting in teal, red, and cream colorations.
“They all sort of bleed into each other, and it’s like a nice tie-dye effect. It’s very groovy, but it’s also very otherworldly,” they said.
Crosby said they imagine the piece as an artifact from outer space, inspired by what the civilizations of aliens might look like and existing relics of ancient civilizations on Earth.
“If you look at ancient Greek art you see all these cool motifs on their vases,” they said. “And then I’m like, ‘Well, what about space artifacts?’”
Crosby said “Fairy Catcher” was an assignment for a ceramics class, and an exploration of what the life of a fairy might look like - what they might eat, where they might sleep, and what would prey on them.
They said their goal with both pieces was to see the projects through, adding when they were younger they would be discouraged if they couldn’t finish a large project. “Now that I’m 29 … I’m like, ‘You know what? My ideas, they’ll form as they are.’
“Now I’m very aware my art will evolve with the process, so I’ve just sort of been evolving,” they said.
Crosby said they have always been an artist, and always used it to communicate with others.
“I consider art my first language. I grew up … [and] I’d rather make my little pictures and be like, ‘Look at this, look at that,’ and then have people guess what I’m saying. But I’ve always been creating with my hands in some form,” they said.
Aiden O’Rourke, a junior studio art major with a concentration in sculpture, had two pieces submitted. “Cubist Violin,” a charcoal drawing made for his color and design class, and “Sake Set,” a 3-dimensional piece for a directed study.
O’Rourke said he was very inspired by Japanese ceramics and the ideals associated with them, and hoped to embody that in his sake set. He added he used wheelworking to sculpt the bottle, and impressed 3-dimensionally-printed stamps into the bottle to give it more depth.
He said he had experience making Japanese-inspired pieces before, such as a tea bowl he made for a ceramics course, but still put research into his sake set through several books he borrowed from the University.
“They had very valuable information, which obviously inspired me. It’s not a traditional Japanese set nor would I claim it’s of Japanese origin, but it’s my interpretation,” he said.
O’Rourke added he also enjoyed the challenge of working on the sake set. “Wheelworking is very difficult. I find it very hard because I’ve only started it within the past couple of months,” he said.
He added the shape of the bottle contributed to the difficulty, specifically mentioning the cone shape which occurs near the neck of the bottle.
“I thought the challenge of it was really intriguing,” he said.
O’Rourke said while it wasn’t his first piece of wheelworking, it was “still amateur,” and he wishes the underglaze was more prominent in the bottle’s depressions. He added the set of four cups had designs of waves faded due to firing, although he said this has its own advantages and personally likes it.
He said he accomplished the goals he set with his ceramics. “My goal was simply to create a sake set, and I do believe I achieved that,” he said. He added he feels setting small goals works well for him, and he is happy creating a bottle with the shape of a sake set.
O’Rourke said he enjoyed seeing his work in the show, and felt accomplished seeing his charcoal drawing framed. “When you see a piece framed for the first time, it establishes a sort of professionalism,” he said. “Not to say that pieces that aren’t framed aren’t professional.”
Caroline Tornifoglio, a senior studio art major with a concentration in painting, and winner of the first-place award, had one acrylic painting included in the show: “Salle de Bain.”
Tornifoglio said the painting was originally an assignment exploring texture, which she developed first by applying acrylic fiber paste. She added she sanded the paste down, put oil in the cracks, and used lots of gel mediums before naming the piece.
“I took French for 13 years, and ‘salle de bain,’ if you ask for one of those in a French-speaking country, they laugh at you because it means washroom. You have to ask for the toilet. There’s no toilet in the picture even though it’s a bathroom, so I was like ‘perfect,’” she said.
Tornifoglio said she tried to give the bathroom a musty, murky, filthy appearance, and that it was inspired by a bathroom from the 20th century she had seen in Boston. “It’s got the landlord special,” she said.
She said she almost wished she had the chance to frame the painting in a bulky gilded frame before it was entered in the show, like the ones on display in the Isabella Stewart Gardner Museum.
She said she didn’t want it to detract from the texture and noise of the painting, however, and conceded “binder clips are fine.”
Tornifoglio said although she had only recently transitioned into the studio art major, she has always been an artist. “I used to do art classes all the time when I was a kid,” she said.
She said she almost didn’t submit to the juried show, but was encouraged to by a professor.
Tornifoglio said it felt “surreal to hear” she was the first-place winner, because she was convinced another artist would win.
The juried students exhibition will run through Feb. 10.