By Scott Calzolaio
The Mazmanian gallery opened with a juried showing of the most notable work from some of FSU’s students.
The variety of artistic expressions and materials used range from portraits to ceramic and canvas pieces. The student work occupies the space, with every wall decorated, pedestals with pieces on top, as well as pieces on the floor and hanging from the ceiling.
Clara Lieu, whose mezzotint series “Hiding” was on display in the gallery through Dec. 2014, was the solo judge on Feb. 3.
“Our juror, Clara Lieu, was impressed with the quality of the work submitted, which made her job difficult,” said Tim McDonald, art professor and the Mazmanian Gallery director. “In her eyes, these works displayed not just a quality in the making and craftsmanship, but an extra something that she did not expect.”
Lieu awarded Aric Davis, an art education graduate student with first place for his piece, “Family Tree.” The skeleton of the tree is composed of a wire frame and screen mesh covered in papier-mâché. The surface texture of the sculpture is made from very light paper, the markings made from handmade, woodcut prints. The woodcut prints form a bark-like pattern, but also deeply resemble the texture of muscle tissue in the way the lines intertwine.
Upon closer observation, the branches and trunk contain patterns of vertebrae and other bone structures such as skulls, femurs and Unger bones. Small accents of red, blue and yellow from the papier-mâché faintly show through the light paper, adding just the right amount of color to an otherwise black and white piece. The base of the piece is made of wood and contains carved impressions of skeletal structures.
“This piece was a good way for me to explore many of the issues I have been dealing with [regarding] members of my extended family,” said Davis. “We all have skeletons in our own closets. I was trying to give light to the ones in my extended family in the only way I know how.”
He added, “I am very honored to have had a few pieces in the show this year, and a bit Flabbergasted that my piece was selected for the first place honor.”
Lieu awarded Laurie Leavitt, an art education graduate student with second place for her piece, “Good Company.”
“I chose to work from a photo I had taken of my daughter and dog,” said Leavitt.
This piece is also printed from woodcuts, and contains only four colors – red, black, white and gold. Each color adds a layer to the portrait creating an abstract sense of foreground and background. The dog, featured in white and surrounded by a gold aura, sits directly below a young girl, distinguishable by the black of her hair. The grain of the wood gives the portrait a faded, naturalistic style, unseen in other submissions.
Leavitt expressed how she was surprised she was awarded second place. “I wasn’t aware that it was being judged,” she said.
Lieu awarded third place to a ceramic piece entitled “Asteroidea” by Meagan St. Laurent, a studio art major. The coil sculpture is about a foot tall, and highly resembles a piece of a coral reef. The piece is actually two individual pieces that wrap around one another, with accents of yellow, green, red and purple, resembling different marine plants found on coral reefs. The focal point of the piece is an orange starfish that sits at the top of the reef.
“I liked the idea of having a single piece separate into two individual pieces that wrapped around each other, so that’s what I started with,” said St. Laurent. “The shape then began to remind me of a coral reef, not only in shape but also in color, so I stained the main piece of the clay with neutral colors and upon ring, used acrylics to paint the sea life with vibrant colors that capture the viewer’s eye.”
Other pieces include Jaime Taborda’s papier-mâché sculpture, “Surrender,” which features a full-sized woman on her knees, with her hands out to her sides and closed eyes to the sky. The piece sits on the floor and is impossible to miss.
One of the only collage pieces in the gallery was an untitled piece by studio art major Maria Katinas. The collage is made from a variety of colored paint samples.
“It took many trips to Home Depot and lots of time,” said Katinas. “But the process of making it was fun because I really couldn’t mess up with it.”
Art Professor Keri Straka said, “I think this collection of artwork is exceptionally strong, and it shows the range and depth of our students at FSU. ... All of us in the Art Department are very proud of these emerging artists as they forge a path for themselves that is deeply embedded in the fabric of contemporary art and critical discourse.”