by Bill Laforme
Plymouth State University has always taken pride in its student artists. For years, exhibitions like the Bachelor of Fine Arts (BFA) Exhibition, which highlights senior thesis projects, and the Juried Student Exhibition, which is open to any student taking an art class on campus, have put a much-deserved spotlight on student talent. Now, two new initiatives by President Sara Jayne Steen—the Presidential Juried Exhibition and the Student Art Collection—are bringing even more opportunities for student artists to exhibit their works and for the campus to enjoy them.
The Presidential Juried Exhibition
Not long after taking office in 2006, President Steen established the Presidential Juried Exhibition, a biannual exhibition in which selected student artworks are displayed in the president’s office for a semester. Jurors, comprising faculty and staff members as well as members of the local arts community, choose works for the summer/fall Presidential Juried Exhibition from pieces in the BFA Exhibition, held each spring. Pieces in the spring Presidential Juried Exhibition are selected from works that students submit in late December, in response to a call for submissions from the art department.
“Our students produce so much strong work that often only gets seen by faculty and classmates,” observed Associate Professor of Art Tom Driscoll. “The artwork displayed in the president’s office has received a lot of positive feedback from both employees of PSU and visitors to the institution.”
The Student Art Collection
Inspired by a suggestion by Driscoll, President Steen launched the Student Art Collection last year. Each spring, the president and a jury select one or two outstanding works from the Juried Student Exhibition for the collection and award the student artists a $500 cash prize. The first two pieces in the Student Art Collection were “Vase,” a ceramic vessel by Erika Borne and a monotype print entitled “Winter” by Anthony Cormier.
The collection is a living exhibition that allows faculty and staff members to sign out pieces and display them in lecture halls, offices, and other places throughout campus. As the collection grows, the University will catalog pieces into an online database for public viewing. “In time, we’re going to have a wonderful collection of student art across the campus,” said President Steen.
The Presidential Juried Exhibition and the Student Art Collection not only help enhance the beauty of the PSU campus, they also recognize and foster the talent of student artists, notes Art Department Chair Cynthia Vascak. “These shows give a boost to students’ confidence and capabilities,” she said. “And they enable them to start viewing themselves as professional artists.”
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