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Fresno State's student-run newspaper

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Fresno State's student-run newspaper

The Collegian

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Students incorporate their identities into artwork at Student Art Show

Strident+Song+by+Liliana+Pantoja+displays+a+jumble+of+orange+objects+entangled+in+yarn.
Cesar Maya/The Collegian
“Strident Song” by Liliana Pantoja displays a jumble of orange objects entangled in yarn.

Stefania Garcia, a fourth year student who won Best of Show for her work in the Student Art Show, said that her piece and the series is a part of combining her two identities.

She states that she wanted to incorporate Talavera, Mexican pottery inspired patterns, which is part of a culture that she pushed away when she was younger.

After previously submitting two pieces that were rejected, Garcia was initially discouraged. Through encouragement from professors and friends she was motivated to submit her work and said that it was a great feeling, especially after being able to tell her mom what she has been working towards while attending college.

“I just showed my mom everything. I haven’t told her my major until now,” Garcia said. “This was just dedicated to show her what I can do and that I can sell things and I can get into a show. The fact that she was there to witness me winning Best of Show was the best feeling I could have.”

On Nov. 30, the Phebe Conley Art Building held an opening reception of its newest show of students’ art. It was open to the public and many artists with work on display brought family and friends to see their art.

The undergraduate art show received 150 submissions, but only selected and displayed 100 artworks created by students. During the event, some students were even recognized for their work and given awards honoring distinct categories.

Michelle Goans, the gallery technician, explained the process of choosing the award recipients through two jurors.

She said that Michael Garcia, a local Fresno artist, and Tracy Polkownikow, the executive director of Arts Visalia, were invited to select their favorite pieces for the show and after, separated them into categories such as sculpture, ceramics, animation and more. Polkownikow and Garcia also decided on a work of art to receive Best of Show, which is the jurors’ favorite overall piece in the show.

Lizz Martinez, who won the category award for multimedia, said that she’s thought about the idea for her piece for some time and realized that it should be submitted after hearing input from friends.

“I was getting a lot of attention for that piece in my gallery and I was iffy on it,” Martinez said. “And then my friends said, ‘You should submit your piece, look at how many people are looking at it’ and it got accepted, so that was pretty cool.”

President Saúl Jiménez-Sandoval also partook in selecting three pieces to be temporarily hung in his home with the selected students receiving prize money of $250 each.

All recipients of awards received prize money, which had been donated from local organizations like Horn Photo and the Edward O. Lund Foundation.

Goans said that the art show was indicative of what someone might see in a community art show at a local gallery. There was a display of a lot of different styles and mediums from a wide range of artists.

Friends and family gather to see the work of student artists. (Cesar Maya/The Collegian)

“I think that when you get these types of shows, over time you end up with growing skills and ideas,” Goans said. “I think that a lot of the students are absolutely on the trend of what we’re seeing in the contemporary art world right now, and I think some of them may even be a little bit ahead of the curve.”

The undergraduate art show has been put on for decades. The gallery has gone through several physical changes including temporary walls, lighting fixtures being switched and a slick, reflective floor being added, but what stays consistent is the desire to showcase the work of students on full display.

Chris Lopez, the previous gallery technician, said that unlike graduate students, undergraduates aren’t required to show their work but are strongly encouraged to do so.

“[The undergraduate program] does whatever it can to update the gallery and showcase the work of our students where they feel proud,” Lopez said. “To have a space for them to be at a time when they can be with friends, colleagues and family.”

Grace Howe, a Fresno State senior who also took part in a ceramics class this semester, attended the reception to support and see the work of her classmates.

“Sometimes I look at a piece and I’m like, ‘Oh, I couldn’t do that, but I could probably make something inspired by that,’” Howe said. “I think I was inspired by a lot of stuff today. This is my first art show and I think everything’s just really unique. I loved it.”

The undergraduate art show will be up until Dec. 8, and the gallery will be open Monday through Friday from 10 a.m. to 4 p.m.

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