• May 19, 2022
 Best Student Artwork to Shine at Annual UTEP Show

Best Student Artwork to Shine at Annual UTEP Show

When her work was included in the 2017 Annual Juried UTEP Student Art Exhibition, Sarah Aguilar said she was surprised. When she learned that two of her pieces were accepted for the 2018 show, her reaction was more of relief.

“It feels rewarding because I work hard on my pieces,” Aguilar said as she took a break from the installation of one of her pieces in the show. She is one of the center’s education interns. “I’m kind of relieved that it’s over. I’ve done the best that I can and I’ve submitted them. Now, I can exhale.”

Aguilar, a senior arts major with a concentration in drawing and minor in printmaking, used a collage of 108 drawings with brief text for “Found Objects and Questions,” and used an intaglio printing process to create “Are You Picking Up What I’m Putting Down,” which was based on a photo she shot of a discarded shoe on a downtown El Paso street.

The El Paso native’s artwork is among the 82 pieces created by 63 student artists from The University of Texas at El Paso for this year’s show that opened May 4, 2018, in the Gerald and Stanlee Rubin Center for the Visual Arts. The displays will be up through Aug. 10, 2018.

Jason Lucero earned the Arlene Smith McKinnon Endowment Purchase Award for Overall Best in Show for “A Miscommunication with Conversationalists.” Jasmine Flores won the Sarah and Tom Lea Purchase Award for Best Life Drawing or Life Painting for her “Stream of Consciousness.” Each earned $750.

Kerry Doyle, Rubin Center director and the show’s organizer, said this event always brings big crowds because of the number of new artists represented, and the interest in their style and level of craftsmanship.

“There are always a few surprises, but at the same time, some of the best work rises to the top,” she said.

For the students, this event is special because their work is judged by top professionals with international reputations. The faculty and staff play no role in the decisions of the judges, who have their own different, subjective aesthetic view.

This year’s jurists were San Francisco-area illustrator Craig Frazier for the graphic arts, and Mexico City visual artist Betsabeé Romero for the fine arts. They reviewed the approximately 400 submissions of drawings, paintings, prints, ceramics, sculptures, jewelry, metalsmithing and graphic designs, and selected about 100 finalists before choosing the winners. A blind juror process was used to ensure no favoritism.

The process is similar to what these students will need to follow to apply for grants and art shows, or to sell their work, Doyle said.

“There are opportunities for success and rejection, but students have to learn to put themselves out there,” she said. “The show is important, but the process is equally important.”

This competition is a high-impact experience that UTEP students can use on their resumes, CVs, and graduate school and job applications, said David Griffin, chair of UTEP’s Department of Art.

“The level of work shown is really phenomenal,” Griffin said. “Past jurors have commended us on our students’ work.”

Zachary Silva, a senior double major in art history and studio art, said he looks forward to seeing the work of his peers, but he is most excited to see the public’s reaction to his two pieces that were accepted into the show.

Silva said he stayed in the campus art studios well into the night for about two months to create the pieces that are anchored in printmaking, a time-consuming art form. “Animal Group Triptych” is a three-panel piece that includes bits of text, and “Strangers in the Night” has a sculptural component and is based on an abstract narrative about relationships.

“This is my first time in the show, so this is exciting,” said Silva, an El Paso native. “This shows that others appreciate my concepts enough that they want to show them to others.”

For Aguilar, the art show is like experiencing the end of a leg of an artistic journey. She understands how practice and failure have propelled her to where she is as an artist.

“I know I have a long way to go to get better, but (participating in this show) is a sign that I’m doing something right.”

Author:  Daniel Perez – UTEP Communications

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