In a celebration of student artwork, American River College’s James Kaneko Art Gallery held the opening ceremony for its Annual Student Exhibition Competition on Wednesday.
First through third place awards, as well as Best of Show, were handed out during the ceremony.
Patricia Wall, a retired art professor from Cosumnes River College, juried the show and chose the winners.
The student art competition opened April 23 and runs through May 4. It features over 70 paintings, sculptures and mixed media pieces created by ARC students. According the Patricia Wood, the galley’s director, the Kaneko received over 300 pieces to be considered.
Trent Duaine Woodley, a studio art major, won best of show for his ceramic sculpture, “Slivir,” inspired by Cerberus, the three-headed dog, from Greek mythology, who guards the gates of the underworld.
While it may have started as a three-headed dog, the sculpture now features three human-like faces, with multi colored mushrooms sprouting from their crowns.
“I actually sculpted a couple dog heads and I didn’t like it so I cut off the muzzles and turned them into human heads,” Woodley said.
Woodley had two others pieces in the show each with a similar theme.
“Actually all three of my pieces are mythological, I do like mythological themes,” he said. Woodley’s other pieces include a sculpture of Medusa and a linoleum block print of Pan.
While his sculpture of Medusa was a final for a figure sculpture class, “Slivir” was a personal piece.
“It was probably about an eight-month process from the time I started,” Woodley said.
Woodley also received the Gary Pruner Scholarship earlier in the year.
“Gary Pruner used to be the painting instructor here and if you go down the hallways in the culinary department you can see his paintings use very beautiful color,” he said. “Basically, color theory, colorful pieces, colorful art is what they typically give the scholarship towards and my pieces tend to be very colorful.”
Among the other award winners, Sheila Parmar took third place for her “Flower Bowl” sculpture and Kiana Brown was awarded second for her silver gelatin print photo titled “Childhood.”
The first place award went to retired Army veteran and returning art student, Renee Marie, for her mixed media piece: “In Free Will We Trust.”
The large work displays an arrangement of found objects payed over a scenic print of Lake Tahoe: from clippings from articles and book to pieces of driftwood shaped like guns, the largest of which is wielded by a plastic mannequin hand and donned with a figure of Jesus hanging from the cross. “Sticks and stones may break my…” is painted across it in bold letters.
Marie asks each viewer to decide what they take from her work and what the piece means to them.
“I’m asking the viewer to consider free will,” she said. “I found pieces that supported the idea of consideration of weapons … So up here it says ‘in war we trust.’ Its considering all the aspects of our aggression and this is what we have as human is our free will.”
Marie said that while her art is open to many interpretations, it also serves as a form of activism.
“I served 20 years in the military so I have a feeling about defense versus war,” she said. “Defense is at times a necessary engagement but there’s a moral injury when you engage in the aggression that we have in our world against one another. And that’s what, for me, this piece questions how is free will helping and hurting us?”
According to Marie, her themes are discovered and guided by the objects she finds. “Art is everywhere, waiting to be assembled,” Marie said about her works.
Marie’s second piece, “The Painted Lady” hangs a few feet from her winning work, also a found object, mixed media piece: “The Painted Lady,” was actually purchased by Wall.
A second award ceremony will be held on May 2 at noon. More awards will be given out including the Dean’s and President’s awards as well as a People’s Choice award. The student art show will run in the Kaneko through May 4.