Student Voice


May 23, 2024


Art Department hosts student exhibition

April 14, 2011

Friday, April 15, is the opening day for the UW-River Falls Art Department’s historical and competitive Student Juried Exhibition in Gallery 101.

The show is a long favored tradition among faculty, staff and art students.

It is where art students may enter work from the art fields of ceramics, computer design, drawing, fibers, glass, jewelry and metals, painting, photography and printmaking, said Art Department Associate Susan Zimmer.

Having been in existence for over 30 years, the show gives students the opportunity to submit their work to be judged by an outside judge, said Art Department Chair Randy Johnson.

“It is a way for us to get our work out there and show what we can do and what we have made,” said head of the Art Society, Chelsea Kelly.

There are high expectations for the students who submit their work, said the show coordinator, Bernice Ficek-Swenson.

“We have a sheltered environment here and this gives students the opportunity to have someone come in with an objective view,” she added.

Kelly said she likes being judged against her peers and it feels especially good when a piece is accepted.

The juror places judgment on students and peers. With around 300 works submitted, there are less than 20 percent accepted, said Zimmer.

Wednesday, April 13, was the day that the judgment took place, which is a day long process, said Ficek-Swenson.

This year, Executive Director at the Minnesota Museum of American Art Kristin Makholm, was the visiting judge.

Makholm has held many positions that make her a qualified judge.

In addition to her work as a museum director, she has also been a museum curator and adjunct professor at the Minneapolis College of Art and Design (MCAD), said Ficek-Swenson.

“She really is an ‘all of the above’ sort of person,” added Ficek-Swenson.

At MCAD, Makholm said she was invigorated with the sense of constant curiosity of art students.

Wednesday, the day of judging, is always an exciting day because students are constantly peeking in the windows of Gallery 101, to see if their work is still in the running for the show, Johnson said.

According to the submission guidelines, when students submit their work instructors have the right to reject work, in the case that it is seen of poor quality prior to judging.

Craftsmanship is one of the essential components of judgment, said Ficek-Swenson.

Kelly said one year she had a piece rejected because the frame had a nick in it.

Another point of consideration of strong work might be if a dialog of expression and sense of personality is established, said Ficek-Swenson.

“I look for works that show me something I’ve never seen before, and make me look, and think, twice,” said Makholm.

“Good art keeps you coming back and asking questions.”

Coming from an art history background, Makholm said she comes “with some baggage as to what’s been done before.”

On Thursday, the selected pieces were installed by Ficek-Swenson and some of her students.

Judges often give input as to where art works should be displayed.

There are many things to consider when organizing and installing the work, including whether or not pieces should be displayed along side one another. This could be based on if they complement each other or have similar attributes.

Additionally, the height of the arrangement is also considered, said Ficek-Swenson.

The Student Juried Exhibition is unique because students have the opportunity to submit some of their work, rather than a collection, which is something that many galleries require, said Kelly.

Students also get to submit the actual pieces, rather than digital copies for judging, said Zimmer.

“It really is a great experience,” said Johnson.

“It is competitive everywhere and it is important for young artists to get a taste of how to present their work.”