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18th Annual Juried Student Art Exhibition


On this page you will find articles detailing the Bower School of Music & The Arts’ 18th Annual Juried Student Art Exhibition.

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FGCU junior Caitlin Rosolen wins Director’s Award at 18th Annual Juried Student Art Exhibition (03-24-16)

Caitlyn Rosolen 03The 18th Annual Juried Student Art Exhibition opened at the Bower School of Music & The Arts on March 17, and Junior Caitlin Rosolen received the coveted Director’s Award for her 28 x 84” acrylic painting, Untitled and Unsung: Absolute Silence.

The towering work evolved from a painting that Caitlin rendered on the nail of one thumb in the library. “The term traces to back to the days when artists didn’t have a lot of paper, so when they had an idea, they’d draw the piece on the nail of their thumb,” Caitlin explained during the opening night reception. Today, thumbnails are quick, abbreviated drawings that are rendered without corrections on any surface. While they are usually done with a pen or pencil, any medium can be used, Caitlyn Rosolen 24including a stylus on a computer monitor or a computer-assisted CAD file. As the term suggests, thumbnails sketches are usually very small, often only an inch or two high.

“So a thumbnail can also be a smaller version of what you plan to do,” Caitlin quickly added as viewers looked at her large scale acrylic. “Like a preliminary sketch or a study.”

With a jagged, ink black area descending from the top of the canvas like funeral drapery, the final painting gives off an unsettling vibe. The canvas’ dimensions are the same as a standard sized casket. “The most absolute of silences is, of course, death,” Caitlin whispers, “with the blackness looming, shadowing over.”

Caitlyn Rosolen 10Throughout history, painters and sculptors have often used art to come to terms with events, emotions and other issues they are dealing with in their lives. Caitlin professes to have already come to terms with her own mortality. “I always found it interesting, honestly, [to contemplate death], because no one really knows what happens after death,” said Caitlin scanning Untitled and Unsung with her deep set inquisitive brown eyes.” There are so many different theories. A lot of people think of heaven, or think of an after-life, or about being Caitlyn Rosolen 16reincarnated. But no one really knows for sure and so I’ve always found it fascinating to contemplate whether you’re stuck in the ground decomposing or you actually do become something else. I feel that I’ve come to terms with it, but others haven’t. A lot of people are frightened about it, but I don’t think there’s anything to be frightened about.”

So in the painting, she depicts the shadow of imminent absolute silence in order to invite Caitlyn Rosolen 22viewers to contemplate and feel more comfortable about death, whether their own, someone they know or a favorite pet or other animal – such as Caitlin’s pencil drawing of a reposed scale, one of three other works that Caitlin had juried into the exhibition.

Caitlin has always had an artistic side. “To be Caitlyn Rosolen 23somewhat clichéd, I drawing before I could walk,” she chuckled amid the buzz of excited voices and bodies moving through the gallery space all around her. “I was drawn to art classes in elementary and middle school. And in high school was in the Center for the Arts at Cypress Lake High.” After graduation, Caitlin hopes to earn a masters in studio art and painting. She sees her future in abstraction “because it’s just me as I am in that moment.” No pre-planning, no preliminary drawings. “Just me in the moment.”

Caitlyn Rosolen 21While Untitled and Unsung: Absolute Silence evolved from that thumbnail painting Caitlin did in the library, that’s the exception. “The majority of my paintings are just me in the moment. If I’m feeling angry or sad or overwhelmed, I take out a canvas and go at it until I become exhausted. Then I pass out and when I wake up, I go ‘Yeah, it looks like I made a painting.'”

It looks like Caitlin Rosolen is going to be making quite a few provocative paintings in the years ahead.

Caitlin Rosolen also received a Southwest Florida Fine Craft Guild Award of Excellence at the opening reception on March 17.



Video performance art piece garners FGCU senior Leila Mesdaghi Southwest Florida Fine Craft Guild award of excellence (03-23-16)

Leila Mesdaghi 05On view now through March 31 in the Art Gallery at FGCU is the 18th Annual Juried Student Art Exhibition. One of the students with work in the show is senior art major Leila Mesdaghi, who received a Southwest Florida Fine Craft Guild Award of Excellence.

Mesdaghi has two pieces in the exhibition. One is a work on canvas, and the other a video of a performance piece that Mesdaghi calls I’m Sorry for What I Said. Both powerful and evocative, the video mesmerized and enthralled viewers throughout the opening night reception. It depicts Mesdaghi licking words written in Leila Mesdaghi 06Apeanut butter off a piece of glass, leaving a residue of smears and smudges. “There were words that came out of my mouth that I wanted to take back,” Leila explains. “I ate what I said, licked my words away and tried to heal the wounds. The residue is the memory of the pain, and that, I cannot take back.”

Leila Mesdaghi 01Performance is a genre of art that is typically presented live by the artist, either alone or in conjunction with performers, collaborators and sometimes even random viewers or spectators. It traces its origins back to Futurism and Dada and is usually employed to express discontent with conventional forms of art, such as painting and traditional modes of sculpture. But it can also be used to give voice to deeper psycho-social and Leila Mesdaghi 07political issues. Not surprisingly, a significant number of performance art pieces were conceived and presented in the 1960s, where they explored topics that ranged from the rise of feminism to anti-war activism.

Although the concerns of performance artists have changed since the 1960s, the genre has remained a constant presence and has largely been welcomed into the conventional museums and Leila Mesdaghi 08galleries from which it was once excluded. In many instances, performance artists have deliberately included shocking components in an attempt to engage viewers both intellectually and emotionally in their work. In one recent exhibit at New York’s Museum of Modern Art, for example, one Marina Abramovic - Scott Rudd photointeractive performance piece left viewers tearful, shaken and inspired enough to permanently memorialize the experience through tattoos. Titled The Artist is Present, the exhibit featured artist Marina Abramovic seated in a chair staring intently across a small table at an empty chair. Members of the audience took turns occupying that chair as Abramovic peered through their eyes Awards 104and seemingly into their very souls. Some laughed self-consciously. Many broke down in tears. Virtually all experienced some type of dramatic, raw emotion.

Mesdaghi often seeks to connect with viewers in the same visceral, evocative, emotional manner. To her, making art is a combination of emotional experience and social responsibility.  She stands on uncomfortable ground and touches on social and political issues like war in the Middle East, the Holding Wishesnegative reflections of Social Media in society, the housing crisis in the U.S, or the price and promise of progress.

Leila was one of three Wish Ambassadors that Florida SouthWestern State College (then, Edison State College) sent to Reykjavik, Iceland in March of 2014 for purposes of delivering a box of wishes for world and personal peace that were collected by the Bob Rauschenberg Gallery during the Yoko Ono Imagine Peace exhibition that opened there Roes Pix 2on January 24. (The others were Josue’ Charles and Christopher Lacoste.)

Leila had intended from the outset to lens a performance art piece during her stay in Iceland. She even brought along a chair that she’d used in a performance piece she staged at the Sidney & Berne Davis Art Center in 2013 (referenced below). But when it came time for her to make the film, the Roes Pix 7absence of her son, her father and the others she’d left behind came rushing to the forefront. And as she mouthed their names while thumbing her prayer beads, giant tears cascaded down her cheeks and her nose began to run uncontrolled and unchecked, like the glaciers all around.

“The whole experience was just so overwhelming. So overpowering. The landscape, the sea, was so Leila Mesdaghi 2expansive and uninterrupted. There we were on top of the world, so elevated that everything else seemed so small and inconsequential. I felt such a deep sense of gratitude that it made me want to cry. Professor Roes told me to just go with the emotion. To release it. And instead of having the camera take in my entire body as I’d originally intended, she focused the lens on just my face.” Roes’ well-hewn instincts were spot on. The close Leila Mesdaghi 9up footage of a crying, runny-nosed Mesdaghi took command of the Bob Rauschenberg Gallery during a follow-up to Yoko One Imagine Peace called ferdalag (which translates a journey or voyage; a creative process of self-discovery and overcoming)..

“The breakthrough for me was the creative power that comes from being in the moment,” Leila explained during the openings, unintentionally echoing the message of master entrepreneur, hip-hop mogul and New York Times bestselling author Russell Simmons, who advocates meditation as the Leila Mesdaghi 7fundamental key to living in the moment and releasing your untapped potential. As she worked her way around the length of her prayer beads, Leila never broke the immediacy of the performance, not even to wipe away a tear or the stream of mucous dripping over her lips in the bitter Icelandic wind and cold.

Many Southwest Florida residents and visitors vividly remember the piece titled Unspoken Words Awards 105that Mesdaghi performed on the limestone steps of the Sidney & Berne Davis Art Center in 2013. “I believe that the root cause of violence and abuse is lack of selfless love,” says Leila of the piece. “ To increase the level of love in our blood and in the air, I decided to read love poems by Rumi. I invited the audience to choose a poem, write it, bring it to Leila Mesdaghi Between Water and Mist 02Sme, and in return, I read each poem one hundred times.”

Mesdaghi hopes her work opens people’s eyes and helps change their attitudes about themselves, other countries and other people. “That’s what art is for. It goes beyond borders.” Of course, the themes she expounds through her performance and video pieces and paintings sometimes spark anti-foreigner sentiment. “They’ll say, ‘Well, if you don’t like it, why don’t you go back where you came from?’” But where Leila comes from is the United States. Although she was raised in Iran and educated there (she holds a Bachelors in Law from Tehran Azad University, Iran), she is American in birth right and temperament.

Awards 102“Because I have an accent and because I have a diverse background, (they believe that) I don’t have the right to speak up,” Mesdaghi told the Fort Myers News-Press in a 2015 interview. But speak up she does. For example, Leila went out of her way to attend a recent meeting of the City of Fort Myers Public Art Committee that had been convened to decide whether a statue named Territorio (by internationally known Colombian artist Edguardo Carmona) should be removed from the corner of Main and Hendry Streets in the downtown Fort Myers River District because it depicts a man and his dog urinating on a lamppost.  “I don’t want to worry that I’m living in a small pond and that I need to Awards 103leave here to be able to be a practicing artist,” Leila to the Committee. “Same as other little children when they pass by, when they look at something they want to be inspired that they can be creative and they should not censor themselves.”

Leila is currently seeking a Bachelors in Arts from Leila and sonFlorida Gulf Coast University with a Minor in Interdisciplinary studies. In addition to her performance pieces, Leila explores many other disciplines and media, from traditional painting to sculpture, printmaking, installations, and video art.  But through them all, she continually seeks to prompt thought, introspection and discourse.



FGCU student artists garner awards at 18th Annual Juried Student Art Exhibition (03-22-16)

Viewers 03The 18th Annual Juried Student Art Exhibition opened at the Bower School of Music & The Arts on March 17. Students of all levels were invited to participate, and jurors Ehren Gerhard, Jim Krieger, and Sherry Rohl chose 68 artworks from more than 300 submissions. Celebrating the best of what the arts at Florida Gulf Coast University has to offer, all media are represented in the exhibition, including drawing, painting, mixed media, photography, ceramics, digital media, printmaking and sculpture.

Viewers 11More than two hundred students, friends, family members and other guests milled through the gallery taking in the show before moving outside for the awards ceremony, which recognized the work of the following students:

  • Bower School of Music & The Arts Director’s Award: Caitlin Rosolen for Untitled and Unsung: Absolute Silence
  • Awards 03Thomas Riley Studio Award: James Futral for Tet-nus, The Bear
  • Carl Schwartz Award for Artistic Endeavor: Marile Franco for Eso Soy Yo
  • Sanibel-Captiva Rotary Club Scholarship Award: James Futral for Tet-nus, The Bear
  • College of Arts & Sciences Dean’s Scholarship Award: Selina Wagner for Blessing in Disguise
  • Frame-It of Bonita Springs Award of Excellence: Sabrina Alonso for Vicissitudes of Existence and Awards 01Alexandrina Petrova for A Moment

Four students received Robert Rauschenberg Residency Private Studio Tour Awards:

  1. Sabrina Alonso for Vicissitudes of Existence;
  2. Anthony Abegglen for Youth Lagoon II;
  3. Alexandrina Petrova for A Moment; and
  4. Anna Cooke for Suspended Landscape

Finally, the Southwest Florida Fine Craft Guild bestowed four Awards of Excellence, to:

  1. Selina Wagner,
  2. Awards 02Leila Mesdaghi,
  3. Taylor Radaker and
  4. Caitlin Rosolen.

Major sponsorship for the show was provided by FineMark National Bank & Trust and Thomas Riley Studio, with additional sponsorship coming from U. Tobe, WGCU Public Media and The Beaches of Fort Myers and Sanibel.

The exhibition runs through March 31. The gallery is in the Arts Complex on FGCU’s main campus at 10501 FGCU Blvd. S. Parking is available in Lot 7 for gallery visitors. Regular viewing hours are 10 a.m. to 4 p.m. Monday through Friday, and 10 a.m. to 8 p.m. Thursday.




Annual Juried Student Art Exhibition opens tonight in FGCU Arts Complex (03-17-16) 

FGCU Student Exhibit 02The 18th Annual Juried Student Art Exhibition opens tonight at 5 p.m. at the Arts Complex. Celebrating the best of what the arts at Florida Gulf Coast University have to offer, the exhibit features 68 artworks by FGCU students selected by jurors from more than 300 submissions. Students of all levels were invited to participate, and all media is represented in the exhibition, including drawing, painting, mixed media, photography, ceramics, digital media, printmaking, sculpture. Scholarships and cash awards will be presented to students in the Arts Complex Courtyard beginning at 6 p.m.

The event is free and open to the public. Major sponsorship for the show has been provided by FineMark National Bank & Trust and Thomas Riley Studio, with additional sponsorship coming from U. Tobe, WGCU Public Media and The Beaches of Fort Myers and Sanibel.

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