Sarah Luther is the only junior out of seniors in the class, “ART 380: Professional Practices,” but that didn’t stop her from claiming third place in this year’s Student Juried Art Exhibition (SJE). The exhibition hosted its opening reception Oct. 27 and will run through Dec. 8 in the Isabella Cannon Room.
Luthors submission, “Transience of Mood and Choice,” is an example of her skill in nonrepresentational art.
“This one was focused on how you experience and make choices when you’re in separate moods that are predominate in your life,” Luther said. “Each canvas represented a state of mood.”
A transcience of shapes travels across all panels of Luther’s piece, enriching the possible interpretations offered to the audience. It represents “how the darkest place in your life will cause effects in the others,” according to Luther.
Luther took part in the exhibition as part of “Professional Practices.” SJE is facilitated entirely by the students of the class. The course aims to strengthen students’ studio practices, resumé building, exhibition creation and professional writing skills.
Michael Fels, associate professor of art and chair of the Department of Art and Art History, continues the 20-year tradition of the SJE in association with “Professional Practices” to prepare his students for both their academic lives and the professional field of art study.
“The SJE offers a format where they can learn about each step required in coordinating an exhibition — something they each will have to do for their thesis exhibition in the spring,” Fels said.
While an external juror — a University of North Carolina at Greensboro graduate — ultimately decides which pieces are displayed, Fels’ students are wholly responsible for the coordination of the exhibition. They write the prospectus, procure the juror, raise finances, solicit submissions and advertise the program.
A juried exhibition, by definition, is a platform in which artists are judged based on a set of certain criteria. The creation of artwork for submission by Elon students is key to the overall exhibition success.
According to senior Hannah Fernandes-Martin, who painted “This was made with with intention of being political but now it’s just pretty,” students were involved in every step of curation.
After the pieces were chosen by the juror and brought to the Isabella Cannon Room, the students decided how and where to put each piece.
“We arranged them in the way that we thought would be best,” Fernandes-Martin said. “It was a collective process, but since so many of us in the class did have work that was in the show, the artist had a say in how their art is displayed.”
The room was organized to showcase each piece and allows the viewer to float through each. Senior Morgan Dagata’s work, titled “Self Portrait,” sits across the room from the Isabella Cannon entry.
The concept of perception and the eye acted as an inspiration for Dagata’s piece.
“I’ve always been inspired by eyes, for, well, forever,” she said. “I think they say a lot about a person’s identity.”
She used her drawing background to create a piece that she said might later become a full collection. Dagata is proud of her piece, and also emphasized the collective talent of her peers.
“There are so many talented people,” she said. “I got to see some submissions when I worked at the table, but when I saw them together, I was so impressed.”
She feels the Elon art department isn’t recognized enough but is happy that SJE offers a chance for the Elon community and professors to see a portion of student artwork.
Thursday night at the opening reception, Dagata got recognition as “Self Portrait” was named first-place winner.
As artists and students, Luther and Dagata appreciate what SJE has done for their work. Luther plans to further develop her piece next semester into her thesis. She submitted last year, placed this year and plans on submitting again.
“I create, and it comes from a place inside of me. I guess it just gives me a sense of self-pride to have Elon and professors see and recognize my work,” Dagata said.