Student Gallery Brings Together Eclectic, Beautiful Achievements Of U Arts Students


A surreal painting inside the 2016 Student Art Exhibit at the U on Thursday, April 14, 2016. (Rishi Deka, Daily Utah Chronicle)

By Kylee Ehmann

Amid the soft notes of a ukulele, a crowd of around 100 people attended the opening night of the annual Student Gallery, a collection of works by artists in the College of Arts.

Located in the Gittins Gallery on the first floor of the Art and Architecture building, the show presents an eclectic collection including the standard fare of abstract paintings and mixed media, as well as the more unusual, such as an installation made of plastic bag fibers and a digital media project. In addition to showcasing some of the best examples the department has to offer, the show honored these students through a variety of different awards.

Felicia Baca, a member of the Utah Division of Arts & Museums, juried the exhibition and selected the best in show piece, “One Drop Fell,” created by Gwen Juvenal.

Art installations outside the 2016 Student Art Exhibit at the U on Thursday, April 14, 2016. (Rishi Deka, Daily Utah Chronicle)

“I think it’s challenging in the contemporary art world to make [ceramics] interesting or not utilitarian. Baca said. “When I looked at it, I saw these hints that looked back to some historical traditions — it’s a triptych. It’s also a vessel or a container, which is a very traditional thing, but Gwen has rendered this vessel totally unusable.”

The porcelain, vase-like piece resembles something similar to a small segment of an ocean reef — its pattern of white, with light blue and seafoam green sides presents a contrast from an exhibit filled with pieces that are either richly colored or rendered in black and white.

Juvenal said she felt grateful to show her work and for people to find insights into what she’s trying to express.

“It’s a combination of trying to express the feeling of growing up in the desert and being female,” Juvenal said. “Living in Utah … we made the desert bloom. And this is a kind of feminine form that shows that same thing … Making it a vessel, making it a stacked form, making the detail, it was really kind of gratifying because I think as a woman — all those little details, we can feel that, it makes up who we are.”

An array of surreal drawings inside the 2016 Student Art Exhibit at the U on Thursday, April 14, 2016. (Rishi Deka, Daily Utah Chronicle)

Mitchel Lee, whose ink-on-paper piece “Sanity Achieved from Being Left Alone Too Long” and painting “True Thrush” won the Dean’s, Union and a Faculty Award, said he was excited for the wins.

“It feels dope,” Lee said. “I’m just lost for words, I guess, except for dope.”

Lee said his drawing piece, which from afar looks like a collection of scribbles, but a grouping of cats up close, was inspired by the feeling of being alone when there is a mass of people around. His painting, an abstracted self-portrait, said it touched on what it’s like to exist in multiple places at the same time.

For a complete list of the winners, visit The Daily Utah Chronicle website.

While not all the pieces won an award, they’re still incredible additions to this gallery.

For instance, “Dissonant Introspection,” by John Tavoian, a sculpture that resembles a wooden soccer ball, drew crowds throughout the night due to its unique interior. When someone walks close to the piece, the inside, visible through a small glass panel, lights up and shows a small machine surrounded by glass. Then, the device hits metal chimes, which sounds like a collection of low-pitched wind chimes.

Surreal drawings inside the 2016 Student Art Exhibit at the U on Thursday, April 14, 2016. (Rishi Deka, Daily Utah Chronicle)

The Gittins Gallery is open from 8 a.m. to 5 p.m. during weekdays, and the students’ artwork will be on display until May 6.

If you plan on visiting, know that it is located down a few steps and is not immediately accessible to wheelchairs, but there is a small elevator located to the side. Once onto the gallery floor, the show’s floor is navigable.

In addition to the main gallery space, there is art on display on the second and third floors, which is accessible through the elevator.

The show is free and open to the public.

Complete Awards List

Best in Show: “One Drop Fell” Gwen Juvenal

Dean’s Purchase Award: “Sanity Achieved from Being Left Alone Too Long” Mitchell Lee

Union Purchase Award: “True Thrush” Mitchell Lee

Faculty Awards: “Golden Mushrooms” Madeline Stanfield

“Sanity Achieved from Being Left Alone Too Long” Mitchell Lee

“Castle” Elena Lawrence

“Sea of Abundance” David Sadler

“ Top Coat ” Sierra Pete

“Nãcidentrica” Diana Pirir

“Du’a” Alexis Reusch

“Bottle with Cup” Liz Shattler

“Knives” Alexis Hanan

“Today Might Be the Day” Anita Hawkins

“A Most Beautiful Divide” Alex Moore

“It Takes a Life Time” John Tigonia

“Dear Powell” Nancy Nielson

SaltGrass Award: “The Procrastinator” Jazmine Martinez

E.J. Bird Scholarship: Elena Lawrence

Rolap Fellowship Award: Austin Riddle


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