By Melissa Hernandez
When the officers of the University of Dallas Art Association (UDAA) got together to discuss their next event, they knew they wanted to provide an opportunity to allow others to exhibit their work, be able to curate and even place in an event. And so the idea of creating a student-run juried exhibition was born. Although at first it was targeted at freshmen, encouraging them to develop different skill sets, students from all disciplines, undergraduates and graduates alike, were invited to submit up to two works of art.
“We wanted to target the freshmen, because as art majors by the time you graduate if you’re a studio major [working in] print, sculpture [or] ceramics, a lot of times galleries and collectors and employers and even prospective buyers want to see your resume or CV and want to see where you have exhibited,” UDAA president Dario Bucheli said. “It teaches you many different valuable skills like space management, lighting, proper distribution of work, and we wanted to give that opportunity to the freshmen but ultimately it’s open to all.”
All submissions were sent to juror Kathleen Janvier, an artist, jeweler and metalsmith who currently teaches at the University of Texas at Arlington. She received her master’s in metalsmithing from Cranbrook Academy of Art and her bachelor’s in jewelry & metalwork from the University of Georgia. The process of deliberation took place over email. The officers sent documentation of the pieces with no reference to the artists’ names. Janvier took the criteria provided and elements of craftsmanship and design into consideration when choosing the 12 pieces to display.
“I try to temper my own subjective leanings with learned standards of craftsmanship, creative interpretation of the theme, the principles of design and the elements of art,” Janvier said in an email. “As the process is conducted completely over email, there is a lot of flipping between images, grouping and regrouping. This is a great opportunity to remember the importance of clean photo documentation, as much of our work as artists will only ever be seen in images, publications and on websites.”
The theme is “Odem Mortis,” or “Death Equalizes.” It was chosen by the officers as a way to get their viewers and participants thinking about the human person and his mortality.
“I think it’s necessary for all to be faced with art that really gets you thinking about who you are as a person,” Bucheli said. “We were asking for submissions that reflected a personal thought or feeling or memory about death and the afterlife.”
For Janvier, the theme allowed her to discover a different perspective of death — one of “softness.”
“This idea of death as a moment of equality that we all experience too many times in our lives, and sometimes at a very short distance, has given death a new softness that I’ve recently found difficult to grasp,” Janvier said. “All of a sudden, the tears of a child seem so terrible and comforting when weeping with that same abandon as an adult almost certainly means the death of a loved one. Why should either be hushed before the full catharsis of emotion trails haltingly into sleep? These are the moments when we know, finally, we are all the same.”
Different mediums were submitted, such as sculpture, ceramics, painting, drawing, printmaking and photography, by art majors and non-art majors alike. UDAA opened the exhibition to all to promote the arts and bridge the gap between the Art Village and the rest of the school.
“There’s definitely a divide between the Art Village and the rest of campus insofar [as] the only people that go there are art majors and everyone else of every other major is on the other side of campus,” Bucheli said. “So what UDAA is trying to do is to promote arts and visual culture among the general student body, mostly by sharing what we have over there by bringing people there or taking what we have there out.”
Winners of the two Best of Show and two Honorable Mentions have already been announced on the UDAA facebook page. Graduate student Thomas Menikos won Best of Show with his piece, “I hear the chains falling.” Junior Cecilia Lang also won best of show with her piece, “Memory, Eternal Bloom” a crematory urn with a ceramic flower inside.
“I like to make ceramic flowers because they don’t die, and so it had to do with this memory that doesn’t die,” Lang said. “Death doesn’t have to be ugly, it is beautiful –its sorrowful, its somber– but its not ugly or horrible.”
Senior Johnny Defilippis won Honorable Mention with his lithography piece “Why are you crying”
Junior Mary Felk also won Honorable Mention with her piece, “longbhriseadh.”
The rest of the pieces will be on display on May 1-8 in the Art History Building.
Bucheli said that he hopes to establish the juried exhibition as a recurring event and would like to see it gain attention in the future.
“We’re really excited about this,” Bucheli said. “It’s definitely a good initiative that we’re taking and I really want to see it become something significant in the future. I would like to try to have it so that ideally if you say you participated in the juried exhibition at the University of Dallas, people would know what you’re talking about.”