Underground Art Exhibit PHOTO

The 2021 Juried Undergraduate Art Exhibition will remain in the Grey Gallery from Oct. 13 to Nov. 30 and features the work of over 200 School of Art and Design students.

The School of Art and Design (SoAD) 2021 fall Juried Undergraduate Exhibition will open on Oct. 13 in the Grey Gallery to showcase the work of students from across SoAD with the presentation of winners to occur virtually at 4 p.m.

Maria Modlin, curator of the Grey Gallery, said the exhibition features around 200 pieces from students in any part of the SoAD. She said there are sculptures, paintings, ceramics, metalwork, photography, textiles, animation and more displayed in the Grey Gallery. She said SoAD’s last student show like this one was in fall 2019, so they wanted everyone who submitted something to get at least one piece into the show.

Sixteen pieces will be given awards by the exhibition’s juror, Steve Prince, Modlin said. Best in Show will receive $500, second place will receive $300 and third place will receive $200. Additionally, 20 Merit Awards will be given, with each awarded artist receiving $100. Two students will receive the Friends of the School of Art and Design Awards at $150 each. A $100 prize will be awarded to the winner of the Nell Cole Graves Award for Ceramics. 

“Frequently we have they (the juror) come in after we hang the show. Sometimes jurying, like for a traditional juried show that’s not in a school, you would send your stuff in or send slides in and they would then select from that. This year because of COVID(-19) we went ahead and did the jurying online rather than have everything here and have the juror drive down to do it,” Modlin said.

For people who are not in the SoAD, Modlin said this exhibition provides a cross section of many different styles of art and all the pieces are unique, so there will be something to appeal to anyone’s taste. She said this exhibit serves as a kind of a celebration of a return to normal in which art galleries can be in person, with a larger in-person capacity.

Student exhibitions like this one are not only opportunities for students to display their work, but Modlin said it affords them the opportunity to practice preparing and displaying pieces for exhibition. She said with such a large number of students who didn’t have a chance to show their work in person before, there was a bit of a learning curve for some on proper techniques for matting, framing and hanging pieces.

“A lot of these students who took the introductory courses last year, most of the classes were online, so they weren’t aware of certain types of things when you’re either framing a work or preparing a piece for a gallery,” Modlin said. “They’re learning, it's a learning opportunity for them.” 

Fifth year studio art and art education double major Rachel Breitinger said the exhibit gives students an opportunity to show off the pieces they have worked on for the past year. She said she has been a part of the exhibit for the past five years and won an award for ceramics in 2019 as well as placing second in the entire show in 2020.

Breitinger said her artistic focus is realistic, figurative sculptures and playful objects that have a deeper and conceptual meaning. 

In the show, Breitinger said she will feature a set of jars that represent function and dysfunction, as well as a traditional North Carolinian moonshine jar. She said she wants guests who visit the exhibit to be mindful of the effort that goes into creating the presented work.

“I would want them (guests of the show) to appreciate the amount of work and the amount of practice that went into creating the artwork as well as the rest of the pieces in the show,” Breitinger said. “I see a lot of growth and a lot of skill building whenever I go to the show.”

Breitinger said the pieces she submitted to the exhibit are from her senior thesis show and were the three pieces that she decided were her best work. She said the pieces she chose were the most interesting looking and were able to “stand alone” outside of her thesis show.

As the exhibit was held online in 2020 due to COVID-19, Breitinger said she is excited to see it in person again for the 2021 exhibition.

Senior textile design major Eddie Tate said he will be featured in the upcoming exhibit for the second year in a row and is excited for the opportunity to showcase the work he has completed in his courses at ECU.

“It's an exciting opportunity to be able to display pretty much anything,” Tate said. “The opportunity to win any kind of award for my work is amazing.”

Tate said his artistic style can be gruesome, uncanny and eerie. He said the piece he submitted for the exhibit is a human-sized sculpture seated in a chair that can be “easily mistaken” for an actual person. 

The piece is meant to confront viewers as well as make them uncomfortable, Tate said. He said his piece represents his own personal journey.

“My piece is extremely special to me not just because it was so much work but I feel like I put a lot of myself into it,” Tate said. “It’s basically the same size as I am and it means a lot to me.”

Tate said due to COVID-19, the upcoming exhibit will be the first non-virtual exhibit he has been able to be a part of at ECU and is excited for the in-person experience.

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