Copper flowers and steel sculptures positioned carefully on pedestals stood in the middle of the white-walled room. Along the walls were several student-created art projects, ranging from monoprints and glass prints to hung cardboard and silicon sculptures. As the art exhibition began, the room started to fill with curious students and Willamette community members. Several of them spent their time stopping to look at each art piece, while others spent their time wandering about the room. Other groups of students came to support their friends and look at the amazing artwork, and spent their time chatting with the artists.
This marks the third year that the Art Department has hosted its annual art show for Willamette students. This year, the guest judge was Michael Hernandez, a local design and creative director in the Salem area. As the juror, he was the one to select which art pieces were to be displayed as a part of the show. He juried for this show because he often volunteers his time in order to help promote the art and design community in the Salem area.
“Student art shows create opportunities for students to gain experience submitting their work and showing their work,” he said. “I really enjoy discovering what work gets submitted. The work has to speak for itself. Students need these opportunities to learn from and build on.”
At the end of the hour, the winners of the art show Hernandez were announced. Ella Mernyk (‘19) won Best in Show for her piece, “ARMOR (too close).” The judge described it as “fashion-oriented” with its unique elements of photography and 3D art. Honorable mentions include sophomore Emma Stocker’ piece “Cryptids,” senior Sinead Cahill’s piece “Unravel” and senior Matt Jensen’s piece “Hello, Pretty You.”
In addition to the art show, the Art Department announced many of its departmental awards for this year’s group of students. Winners were named for awards, such as Departmental Honors, the Hallie Ford Award and Robert Hess Award. The Department also acknowledged two students who have worked hard to contribute to the culture of the art department, Jensen and Mernyk.
At the conclusion of the event, Hernandez only had one thing to say about the importance of such exhibits: “It’s clear to me that the benefits of the arts as part of students education at all levels of schooling are very valuable. Being creative is essential to solving problems no matter the job at hand.”