This year’s Juried Student Show is a refreshing reminder that art is a powerful tool.
Right before the opening on Thursday, I went to my Intro to Fiction class taught by Myléne Dressler. Too shook up to discuss the book we were reading, we sat in a circle and discussed our thoughts about the election results and what role fiction, and all forms of art, hold in the wake of world events. We determined that art can help us spread awareness, empower us, help us cope, help us remember, help us fight back; the list goes on and on. I left that class in tears, feeling angry and scared for my friends- for women, for POC, for Muslims, for Latinx, for the LGBTQ community, for immigrants and for myself, as a disabled woman. I really didn’t feel like going anywhere, but I went to the Student Show anyway, and I’m so glad I did.
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So many pieces this year do exactly what Myléne said art could do. I saw a lot of Guilfordians using their artistic talents to send messages, both intentionally and maybe some unintentionally, but the feeling was there to me all the same.
There were empowering images of women, such as Natalie Bodian’s painting, Reflection. I love this painting so much. Not only are the pastel shades and painterly brushstrokes gorgeous, the expression on the figure’s reflected face is very content and sends vibes of body positivity.
I also saw celebrations of culture, especially in Abigail Bekele’s picture, Ethiopian Celebration. The picture is so lively, and I was drawn back to it multiple times during the show. There are so many vivid colors in their outfits and it leaves me wanting to learn more about Ethiopian culture.
The show also featured art that brought awareness to self-identity and daily struggles, such as Colin Nollet’s wearable sculpture, Protect me What. This piece explores the relationship between protecting yourself and harming yourself by overprotecting yourself, conveyed through the juxtaposition of soft yarn and hard steel. This was definitely one of the most striking pieces and it was something I had to ask Colin to explain the meaning of. Art that has no visible or convenient explanation leads to conversation, and I think that’s important, especially for art with a message of social awareness, such as this piece.
One final aspect of the show was art that reminds us of the beauty our planet holds. There were so many pieces this year that depict beautiful scenes of nature, such as Laura Adair’s monotype, Celebration of Fall. This piece is so delicate and complex, reminding me that we cannot lose sight of the needs of our ecosystem. Apparently global warming is a myth to some people. *rolls eyes out of their sockets*
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This is what we need right now: people promoting equality, love, and awareness by any means necessary, in any format possible. Our nation is changing, and not for the better, in my opinion. Let art be a tool for combatting sexism, racism, bigotry, ableism, and all forms of oppression. There’s so much work to be done.