As the academic year comes to an end this month, the Galleries at Cleveland State University present the 46th Student Show and Merit Scholar Exhibition. An annual tradition, the exhibitions showcase the best work produced by students throughout the school year. This year’s student show features diverse work made by students in CSU’s many art concentrations, including drawing, painting, printmaking, photography, sculpture, animation, video and graphic design. More than any previous year, this year’s show includes eight video and animation works. The whole show is housed in the South and Center galleries.
“Overall the show was very competitive this year as only a fraction of the submitted works were accepted,” says gallery director Robert Thurmer. “There was almost no abstract work submitted — and among the figurative/imagistic works, fantasy and heroic and, to a lesser degree, self-conscious/introspective images prevailed. There were very few large-scale works submitted with most of the works ranging in the 18x20- to 24x36-inch size range."
This year’s jurors are both local artists and gallerists: Gadi Zamir, founder of Negative Space Gallery, and Karl Anderson, co-founder of Forum Artspace at 78th Street Studios and R&D Program Coordinator at Spaces.
Entirely organized by CSU’s Student Organization of Fine Arts (SOFA), current students actively participate in every aspect of the process, from selecting the jurors and creating the postcard imagery to soliciting donations from local businesses and catering the opening reception.
“The importance of this experience that the students of SOFA receive from this responsibility of selecting jurors is truly immeasurable,” says Denise Kyrkos, current Merit Scholar and president of SOFA. “Professionalism is a key element to this process, and the hands-on experience these students get from the Student Show truly prepares them for the Professional World. SOFA not only selects the jurors, but we also teach our students in our weekly meetings how to prepare their work for the student show, allowing them to be prepared for anything when it comes down to the drop-off deadlines. We show them how to frame their work, how to properly present their work, we help them decide on titles for their work, we provide feedback on work they can’t decide on, etc. We find that having a team of students who are going through the same stressful and hectic situation as getting ready for the Student show is extremely reassuring to students who may not have as much experience preparing for a show. The overall excitement, enthusiasm, eagerness to learn, and dedication of these students to the arts is what really makes the Student Show so successful.”
The North Gallery’s Merit Scholar Exhibition includes individual showcases of new work by the Art Department’s Merit Scholars, students awarded special, merit-based scholarships each year. As part of their scholarship contracts, Merit Scholars are required to present their work, even installing it on the gallery walls themselves.
“Being a Merit Scholar is definitely a huge responsibility and overall a rewarding one,” Kyrkos says. “As a merit scholar, your requirements are not only to produce a strong, new body of work in the following year of receiving the scholarship, but you also have to participate fully in the student run organizations like SOFA or AIGA while maintaining a good GPA and full-time student status. All of this can be very overwhelming at times, especially when you have a part-time job on top of it.”
This year’s Merit Scholars are Arnela Bektas, Kassidie Butler, Anastasia Cyr, Denise Kyrkos, Miranda Peer-Perryman, Madison Reep and Benjamin Rodriguez.
During the opening reception from 5 to 8 p.m. on Friday, May 5, awards will be presented for the Student Show. For the first time, a prize for Best of Merit will be awarded to one of this year’s Merit Scholarship recipients. Both exhibitions remain on view through June 10 during regular viewing hours: Friday and Saturday from noon to 7 p.m. or by appointment.
(The Galleries at CSU) 1307 Euclid Ave., 216-687-2103, csuohio.edu/artgallery.