Art exhibit prepares students for life after college

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All kinds of majors compete in the Student Art Exhibit and some of the submissions stretch the traditional definition of fine art.

The annual Student Art Exhibit, which opened on April 10 and runs until April 28 in the Fawick Art Gallery, consists of a juried collection of the best student artwork from a variety of majors at Baldwin Wallace University. 

From printmaking to oil paintings, the Department of Art is showing off its students’ work. Students are allowed one to five pieces of art for the exhibit. Unlike some other art shows on campus, what makes the Student Art Exhibit special is that it is not exclusive to certain students, according to Rich Cihlar, the art department office manager and gallery manager. 

“The great thing about the exhibit is it’s open to all current BW students,” Cihlar said. “Maybe you like to take photographs on your phone, and you get very good at it, or maybe you like how your paintings are looking and want somewhere to show it off.” 

Cihlar is a BW alumnus who graduated from the school in 2002 with a degree in studio art. He returned to the school in 2009 and has been involved with the art galleries for the department after years of specializing in printmaking, an art form that involves carving a material, such as wood, and applying ink to it before stamping it onto another surface to create a desired image. 

Although the gallery is on the art department’s turf, that hasn’t stopped students from other majors participating. 

“We’ve had non-art majors come in and take the biggest prizes — biology majors, math majors, [and] film majors. I think it’s great to have them come in and beat the art majors at their own game,” Cihlar said. “It stokes a fire into our own majors who see these outsiders come in and claim number one. It makes them want to get better and step up their own game.”  

The selection process for the pieces utilizes two outside jurors that have a history in the art field and who are not affiliated with current students. Chair of the Art History Department and associate professor Darlene Michitsch said that presentation is prioritized in the process.  

“We choose people in the art field who understand the aesthetic and importance of presentation,” Michitsch said. “We give them limited guidelines such as, ‘Is it framed well? Are the edges of the canvas well? Are there proper pieces in the back to hang it?’ Proper presentation is everything.” 

At the end of the day, the jurors choose the pieces they think are the best and give cash prizes to the winners of nine categories and commemorate the honorable mentions.  

“Not everyone agrees with what wins every year, but that’s the beauty of it,” Cihlar said. “It’s a look into what the real world is like. Sometimes you’re accepted, and sometimes you’re not. It’s the gallery life and it’s what’s expected outside of Baldwin Wallace.” 

Michitsch said that the student’s originality is what often matters.  

“You want to do something different; you want to do something presentable,” Michitsch said. “Students will ask, ‘What should I submit?’ I try to tell them not to submit things they’ve submitted in class. We want to see something unique.”  

Aside from the prizes, the exhibit also traverses into different art forms, having some students break from the normal guidelines. For example, Cihlar said that digital art was a “a strong new medium” that hasn’t been represented in the past because it wasn’t considered ‘fine art.’  

“It’s been seeping into our show, as it should. I mean, everything in our world is designed from it from logos to billboards, many don’t consider that a fine art, but it takes a creative mind to put it all together,” Cihlar said. 

Business administration and management major Justyn Moses competed in a previous Student Art Exhibition with digital art. 

“As a freelancer, I do all my own logos and designs,” Moses said. “Although I never won anything, I think it’s great that digital art is getting some recognition in a field that’s still dominated by older artists who are still foreign to the art.”  

The exhibition is located in the Fawick Art Gallery in Kleist Center for Art & Drama and runs until April 28. It is available to all students Monday through Friday from 2-5 p.m. and by appointment.

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