Grad students showcase talents, interact with undergraduates at annual juror show

The Art and Design department hosted its annual graduate juror show on Jan. 20. Graduate students showcased their work and received comments from juror Libby Reuter, a local St. Louis artist.

Senior fine arts major Sarah Lorentz looks at a metalsmithing sculpture called “Breath Reliquary,” by grad student Erin Rice. The piece was made from brown glass, sterling silver, vinyl tubing and bullet garnets. Rice received the Paulette Meyer Award in Contemporary Metalsmithing for the design. (Photo by Joe Lacdan)

And SIUE undergraduate students also had the opportunity to view the artwork and interact with the graduate artists.

The artwork of master’s students were judged in 10 categories and artists of the top entries were honored. The master’s students also received feedback from Reuter.

“For everybody in here it’s kind of a validation of what we do,” said third-year master’s student Eric Heerspink. “It’s an exciting opportunity to have somebody else recognize the work you put into making a piece, recognize your ideas; your voice your expression.”

Joe Page, an associate professor of ceramics, coordinated the event and said the exhibition provides an opportunity for undergraduate students to get a peek at SIUE’s graduate program.

“I think it provides a valuable resource for our students that are undergraduates,” Page said. “They can come and see work by people who are more accomplished in the field – have had more experience with the material, so that they can be inspired by people ahead of them in the program.”

Heerspink, who taught middle school and high school art at the Westminster Christian School in Palmetto Bay, Fl., won two awards. He earned the Martha Holden Ceramics award for his “Mechanical Vase” and earned the Wagner Potter’s Association award for his “Drafted System” piece. Heerspink said his goal after graduation is to become an instructor at the collegiate level.

“It’s just a great opportunity to show the work and having a juror come in, someone who’s from outside of the university who brings fresh eyes,” Heerspink said. “It acknowledges your work and just getting in the juror show is already a big accomplishment.”

After a brief presentation, graduate students had the opportunity to speak with undergraduate students about their work and explain their methods in creating their artistic pieces. Art Department chair Barbara Nwacha said graduate students share studio space with undergraduates and can provide valuable, hands-on feedback.

“The graduate program in the arts really helps undergrads understand how to focus their work, how to move their concepts forward,” Nwacha said. “And they have mentors that may be outside their discipline. The camaraderie and relationship is a little bit different than what they might have with their faculty mentor. The grad student might be someone who’s more approachable about technique or how they are working. So all of those are very valuable they help our undergraduate with the program.”

The other graduate award winners were Danne Rhaesa, Melissa Hampton, Carrie Crister, Carrie Gillen, Kimia Emani, Joanna Hoge, Lacy Kirkwood and Erin Rice.

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