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April 4, 2013

Galleries shine spotlight on student artists

By Kelsey Smith

The Galleries at Cleveland State University are celebrating student artists by simultaneously hosting their annual Student Show and the Merit Scholarship Exhibitions for the first time in the new gallery space, while staying true to the exhibits’ traditions.

Rachel StrongliThe Student Show has been an annual show since 1971 when it was the Cooper School of Art. In 1973, Cleveland State incorporated the school into the university and the art department, as we know it, was established.

Since 1971, the Student Show has not changed much. It is open to all full-time Cleveland State undergraduate and graduate students, and is juried by art experts, though the selection process for the jurors has changed in the past decade.

“The show has always been a juried art show, which means one or several art experts select from submissions,” Robert Thurmer, director of The Galleries at Cleveland State, explained. “In the past sometimes the art faculty selected the work, but since 1993, the
Student Show has been a special project of the Student Fine Art Association (SOFA), who now handles the organization and selection of jurors.”

There has also been one other major change in recent years. This is the first time the Student Show is being held in the new galleries on Euclid and East 13th. In the past, hundreds of visitors have attended the Student Show. With this being the first time this exhibit is being held in this gallery, gallery directors weren’t sure what to expect, but welcomed 300 guests on opening night.

In the other part of the gallery is an exhibition of works from the 2012-2013 Merit Scholarship recipients.

Each year the art department awards approximately $40,000 to art majors based on artistic merit. Students have to apply and submit images of six of their best works, which are then scored by faculty members in the art department.

“The submissions are reviewed by art faculty and scored on a 10-point scale,” Thurmer said. “Successful applicants are ranked and awarded a monetary scholarship, up to full tuition, in accordance with their ranking based on esthetic merit of their submitted work. As part of the scholarship, merit scholars have to show the work that they have produced with scholarship money at the end of their scholarship year.”

This year’s five Merit Scholarship recipients have put together an impressive exhibit. Each artist has their own style, which they use to explore various subjects.

Ryan Upp’s body of work, for example, is inspired by the exploration of identity, and incorporates techniques learned throughout his four years at Cleveland State.
Upp, who plans to attend graduate school next year for art administration, credits his success to hard work and challenging himself.

“I research what other artists are creating and believe in my ability to create something as great or even better,” Upp said. “My advice for other aspiring artists, is don’t let anyone convince you that being an artist will ultimately cause you to struggle. Do what brings you joy. Trust in that belief and doors will open for you constantly.”

The Student Show and Merit Scholarship Exhibitions will be at The Galleries at Cleveland State until May 4. The gallery is free and open to the public.


"Where Do My Dreams Come From and Where Do They Go" by Rachel Strongoli