Students strut their art skills in juried show

By Morgan Rosenberger
Staff Writer

Freshworks III, a Student Exhibition at Sam Hill Gallery, houses works ranging from photography, blown glass, screen prints to charcoal drawings. As an entirety, the art presents personal and social commentary. Many of the pieces reveal the artists’ vulnerability with a harrowing presence, while others strike the viewer with their simple statements or snarky tone.

All entries to the show were created in Visual Arts classes at Prescott College during the past year. Nicole Ponsler, the show’s juror, noted that she had a difficult time choosing not only which pieces would win first through third place, but also, which pieces would make it into the show. This year’s student art exhibition represents a wide range of talent, and impresses even the most artistic eye.

The first thing one notices when entering the gallery is the massive self-portrait series by Daniel Fitzgerald. Against a white backdrop, the 22 photographs depict, in detail, the eccentric changes of Fitzgerald’s bright-red facial hair. Throughout the profiles and head-shots, his stare shifts from the viewer to outside the frame, bringing slight humor and edge to his otherwise stoic expressions. It is an eye-catching piece.

On the adjacent wall hangs the second place winner, Jesse Rens’ “Mother of Exile.” The four-panel piece, filled with bold colors, depicts the face of the Statue of Liberty in the form of a color-blindness test. In addition to demonstrating the capabilities of screen printing, the work conjures social and political commentary.

First place went to Kieran Sullivan, for his mixed media piece, “Self Portrait: STRESS.” A cyanotype print using multiple negatives, with illustrations imposed upon the print, the imaginative work proves a successful combination. The chaotic assortment of colors and textures aptly represent the emotion described in the title. The picture has a haunting, melancholic feel that resonates in the mind’s eye long afterwards.

A three-dimensional piece won third place — an elegant and simple blown glass vase, by Sage Regina. The remaining works on display continue the level of intrigue, voice and unique methods of the student artists.

A painter and public artist, Ponsler resides in northern California. Much of her work revolves around community collaboration. Ponsler has been a part of numerous mural projects from installations located in her own community to West Bank in Palestine. Engaging with more than 40 youth over a three-year period, she led the Rural Murals organization, producing three permanent mural installations in various locations. As the executive director for Youth Services for the Gualala Arts Center, she administers funding for arts in Sonoma and Mendocino county schools.

Ponsler also coordinated a large-scale pebble mosaic project for the City of Point Arena, Calif. Under her direction, over 50 community volunteers helped create this artistic legacy, composed entirely of local beach and river rock. To see more of her work, visit: http://dialoguesinpublicart.blogspot.com/.

Overall, the variety and mastery of the pieces in this exhibit show the diverse nature of Prescott College’s Arts and Letters courses, and makes for an excellent exhibition.

This article appeared in the May 2011 print edition of The Raven Review.
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