At the same time that in-person classes were shifting online throughout the university, judging for one of the most anticipated shows of the year was under way at the FGCU Art Galleries. The Annual Juried Student Art Exhibition — which was scheduled to open March 19 before the show went on the web instead — inspires alumni, extended family members and arts patrons to join the campus community to celebrate the creative accomplishments of undergraduates in sculpture, drawing, digital media, printmaking, painting and ceramics.
Besides the usual opening-reception festivities and joyous reunions among art faculty and alumni, the show provides an opportunity for students to gain experience in the professional exhibition process, to speak publicly about their methods and concepts and possibly earn extra money through sales or scholarship awards. Works are still available for purchase, and proceeds go to directly to students.
The gallery leadership’s prompt pivot to photograph and present the show in an online catalog in lieu of being able to hang and present a public show in the Wasmer Gallery of the Arts Complex made it possible for students like Breah Fyffe to see a positive outcome of unfortunate circumstances and to salvage satisfaction from being one of those singled out by the jury of art professionals for the exhibit.
“I was quite amazed to see the final results of our efforts once it was posted online, which felt like a pretty wonderful accomplishment,” the junior art major wrote in an email. “I feel as though the fact that the show was published online rather than in a gallery setting allows for the opportunity of a much wider viewing audience. I was able to send links to some of my family members from my hometown of Orange, N.J.”
And Fyffe sold her piece, a monotype print called “Focal Point I.” “A total shock,” she said.
Fyffe also was among a group of gallery assistants who gained the experience of a lifetime behind the scenes. They set up a photography station and captured the 66 featured artworks digitally to help create the online catalog even as peers began leaving campus mid-March to continue learning remotely. Joining her in the unprecedented effort were: lead gallery assistant Farrah Alkhadra, Joseph Adams, Meg Brunner, Romina Combe, Lily Martindale and Marcela Pulgarin.
“The online catalog looks excellent and is available for free and for anyone to view,” said Alkhadra, a senior art major from Parkland who won the Method & Concept Scholarship Award for her sculpture “Coelom,” one of her four pieces selected for the show. “Plus, the students now have professional photographs of their work, which is essential to working artists. In the end, the annual juried show gave young artists exposure and recognition. I’d call it a success given the circumstances.”
Art Gallery Director John Loscuito and Assistant Curator Anica Sturdivant oversaw the project, instructing students on how best to photograph various media, and said they were proud of the effort and results.
“We have gotten tremendous response for something positive when there is so much bad news,” Loscuito wrote in his catalog introduction. “The students are already responding about how much this means to them because they thought the exhibition was just being canceled and forgotten. It is wonderful to know that we can make a difference. Most of the works are for sale, with all the proceeds going directly to our students, who could use the support during these difficult times.”
The Issuu catalog Sturdivant designed went online March 20, just a day after the exhibit had been scheduled to open, thanks to the gallery team switching gears “pretty seamlessly,” she said. Not that there weren’t challenges to overcome in the juried show’s 22nd year.
“We also had to work out how our award sponsors were going to be able to make their selections,” Sturdivant added. “Most of our sponsors made an appointment to come view the work and make their selections, and one sponsor was able to use our online catalog to make their decision. They were all exceptionally committed to supporting our students. The sponsorship of the exhibition and the awards bring an incredible sense of community to campus.”
And that sense of community continues online, where anyone anywhere can click through the catalog and make an offer that will help support aspiring young artists, wherever they are and when they need it most. Works featured in the catalog will be available for purchase through April 2, Sturdivant said. Sales can be arranged through her at [email protected].
As for the spring semester’s senior project shows, current plans are to display graduating art majors’ work Aug. 21-Sept. 3 in the Wasmer Art Gallery and ArtLab, with a public reception 5-7 p.m. Aug. 20; digital design majors would be showcased Sept. 18-Oct. 1 in the Wasmer Art Gallery, with an opening reception 5-7 p.m. Sept. 17.
- College of Arts and Sciences Dean’s Scholarship Award: Geneviv Iriarte, “Cave Wall”
- Method & Concept Scholarship Award: Farrah Alkhadra, “Coelom”; Tanner Yurchuck, “Dreaming with Eyes Wide Open”
- Carl E. Schwartz Award for Artistic Endeavor Scholarship: Francheska Castano
- Sanibel-Captiva Rotary Club Award of Excellence: Alyssa Payne, “Time Traveler”
- Robert Rauschenberg Residency Award of Excellence: Megan Shinham
- Southwest Florida Fine Craft Guild Award of Excellence: Martha Grattan, “Anthropocene: Quagga”; Geneviv Iriarte, “The Cave”; Tanner Yurchuck, “Dreaming with Eyes Wide Open”; Adam Claggett, “Rejoice in Motion”
- FGCU Art Galleries T-Shirt Award: Cody Deno, “Tracks”
- FGCU Art Galleries Sketchbook Award: Haley Keller, “Gator”
FGCU Art Galleries staff thanks the following for their support in this exhibition:
- Jurors: Julie Gerhard, Renee Rey and Melissa Minds VandeBurgt
- Award Sponsors: College of Arts & Sciences Dean’s Office, Method & Concept, the sponsor of the Carl E. Schwartz Award for Artistic Endeavor, Southwest Florida Fine Craft Guild, Robert Rauschenberg Residency and Sanibel-Captiva Rotary Club
- Exhibition Sponsors: The Layden Family Foundation, The Smith Family Foundation of Estero, Method & Concept Art Gallery and Atelier, Florida Department of State Division of Cultural Affairs and WGCU Public Media.