From an enigmatic miniature suspended house best viewed from below and inside, to a larger-than-life metal lion literally glowing from within, Luculence, the annual open house exhibition of York’s Department of Visual Art & Art History, packed the Joan & Martin Goldfarb Centre for Fine Arts with student creativity April 15.
The event title – derived from the virtually obsolete word “luculent,” which means shining and brilliant, or lucid and clear in thought or expression — is an apt descriptor for the hundreds of works displayed by the rising young talent in the department. Print media, drawing, painting, photography, sculpture and time-based artworks were on view in the galleries, classrooms, studios and lobbies on all four floors of the complex. Artists were on hand to welcome visitors and speak about their creative process.
“The Visual Arts Student Association picked the title for the sound of the word,” said Maria Won, who serves as co-president of VASA with fellow fourth-year visual art student Betty Zhang. “We wanted people to wonder what it meant, and we loved the dual meanings regarding beauty and clarity.”
“The open house is an amazing opportunity to see each other’s work and share it with the rest of the University community,” said Zhang. “It facilitates an exchange of ideas, helps us connect to like-minded talent working in other media and encourages collaboration.”
Fourth-year painting student Kristin Alphonso brought her friend Shenika Fountain to explore the show with her. Fountain, who paints in her spare time, was impressed by the diversity of talent on display. “It’s inspiring and refreshing,” she said. For Alphonso, the highlight was seeing what her peers were working on, especially in sculpture, a medium she used to work in before concentrating on painting.
The energy and excitement that charged the exhibition was stoked by anticipation of announcements of more than $8,000 in cash and in-kind awards. The open house culminated with an awards ceremony with several prizes for each artistic medium, punctuated by enthusiastic cheers from the students.
Professor Sarah Parsons, chair of the Department of Visual Art & Art History, welcomed the crowd.
“I’m thrilled by all this amazing work animating our spaces,” she said. “To the students, faculty and technicians who facilitated this event: thank you. And big congratulations to all of our students! While we have many awards to present tonight, you all deserve more recognition that we can possibly provide.”
Midway through the awards presentation, Professor Brandon Vickerd introduced Andy Racco and Cristina Siragusa of RAM Iron & Metal. For the fifth consecutive year, RAM donated a $5,000 award for the open house to recognize excellence in metal sculpture, and has provided the department with unlimited access to scrap metal for student work.
Jose Miranda won the 2015 RAM Iron & Metal Sculpture Award for his monumental lion sculpture, titled process. Lit from within, process has a body of welded steel, a mane of copper wire, and alabaster stone teeth and claws.
Art Gallery of York University Director/Curator Philip Monk and Assistant Director/Curator Emelie Chhangur were on hand to present two awards. Maxine Veneracion was recognized for her video Still Life in Motion, which animates old paintings in a witty way. Victoria Bacnis, who received an award for her book series, Still Mourning, was commended for treating mourning and commemoration in a simple yet sophisticated and moving way.
Emanuel Ciobanica won the Willowdale Group of Artists Painting Award, presented by Margie Wagner from the local association of painters. The prize recognizes exceptional achievement in painting by an upper-level undergraduate who is continuing to study the medium. Ciobanica, who has shown her work internationally, receives $1,250 and the opportunity to present a solo exhibition at York University’s Gales Gallery next season.
Among the dozens of other prizes given were the Jeannie Thib Print Media Awards, named in honour of the late artist and York alumna, awarded to Phoebe Todd-Parrish and Karen Luk, and the Senior Art History Essay Awards presented to Angelina Coccimiglio and Sung Yun Lydia Shin.
Luculence was coordinated by Professor Marc Couroux and the Visual Art Student Association.
To see see more works from the show, visit the School of the Arts, Media Performance & Design’s Luculence Flickr gallery.