Annual “Juried Student Art Exhibition” Opens at the O’Connor Art Gallery

By Lauren Pinkston

April 3, 2013

Art critique season is back in swing as the O’Connor Art Gallery opened its annual “Juried Student Art Exhibition” on Wed. March 20.

The “Juried Student Art Exhibition”, which occurs once each school year, encourages students to submit their artwork to be showcased. The show, which features exactly 100 pieces, is open for viewing to Dominican students and faculty and to the local community.

Angela Bryant, director of the O’Connor Art Gallery, believes that the purpose of an all-student, Dominican community art show is to provide student an opportunity to practice applying for professional art exhibits.

“We’re preparing these students for that sort of process, while building their esteem if their artwork is selected,” Bryant said. “If it isn’t, it helps them to improve and gage their level of work, plus the prizes are fun.”

Karen Azarnia, a Chicago-based painter, was the curator and juror of the exhibition. Azarnia serves as the gallery director at the Freeark Gallery at the Riverside Arts Center in suburban Riverside. She decided which artwork received the cash prizes that amounted to over $500.

The largest award given at the exhibition was the “Dean’s Purchase Award” given to John Gurnig for his piece, “Critic’s Contrast”. Gurnig’s piece is an archival grade print, which he photographed and edited in Adobe Photoshop. He was inspired by the way the light reflected off of the different surfaces.

“I was very surprised and happy to win the award,” Gurnig said. “I don’t win very often, so this was a nice change for me. I wasn’t even there when they made the announcement. I was busy getting homework done for my photography class.”

Those who attended the opening ceremony were inspired by the diversity of the artwork. Jonathan Parnell, a junior who attends O’Connor Art Gallery exhibits often, hopes that his artwork will be featured in a Dominican show next year.

“I attended the opening to come out and support,” Parnell said.  “They’re always pretty fun; nice food, good conversation, and great art.”

One of Parnell’s favorite pieces was “Pelvis Studies” by Alexandra Kapot. This artwork was awarded “Best Work On Paper.” Kapot used graphite on paper to create this piece.

These senior theses give the seniors an exclusive chance to display their work for friends, family and faculty before leaving Dominican.

“They’re taking what they’ve learned and now they’re interpreting it into their own aesthetic, so they’re finding their voice,” Bryant explained. “It’s a big deal for the seniors.”

Bryant hopes to see the Dominican community take advantage of the opportunity to view this artwork and to submit pieces in the future.

“It’s always enriching to see art around you,” she said. “The art students get a chance for the public to see their work, so they get more exposure. The school is getting more exposure from the public. It’s an overall sort of awareness thing, like this is what we’re doing, we’re making art and these are the fruits of our labor.”

This is the second exhibit that the O’Connor Art Gallery has displayed so far this semester, and it is free and is open to all until March 31.  The next exhibits will open on April 7, 21 and 28. Each will feature the work of Dominican’s senior art students.