Student Artwork Debuts at the 25th Annual Juried Student Art Exhibition


Ash Cohen created “Eyes of Mars,” 2022, using soft pastel. He won the Art Galleries Award of Excellence last year and was able to have his art printed on t-shirts and sketchbooks. Photo courtesy of Ash Cohen.

Alex Cavalier, Contributing Writer

The 25th Annual Juried Student Art Exhibition opened today after weeks of preparation from both students and staff for the debut.

​The exhibit highlights students’ artwork by featuring pieces in the Wasmer Gallery at the Arts Complex. Gallery Director John Loscuito and Assistant Curator Anica Sturdivant work together to plan the event. 

​Students working in sculpture, drawing, printmaking, painting and ceramics can submit up to six pieces for jurying. The participants were required to drop off their work two weeks before the event.

​Sturdivant handles the graphic design and marketing for the exhibition. She decided to feature student Ash Cohen’s piece “Eyes of Mars” in the advertisements after he won the Art Galleries Award of Excellence last year. The award is to have the artist’s work printed and featured in the program’s annual t-shirts and sketchbooks. 

​“The decision is based upon what we believe to be excellent work, then the gallery bestows two awards to artists whose work we believe will translate well to a graphic application,” Sturdivant said. “Ash’s ‘Eyes of Mars’ is compelling work and translated to the graphic we used for the cover of the sketchbook we produce for students.” 

​Using himself for reference, Cohen was surprised to see his eyes staring back at him. 

​“I was fortunate enough to win the award where my work was being used on the sketchbooks that were being handed out. So, my classmates and I will open up the sketchbook and it has my design on it which is crazy,” he said. “I did receive about four awards last semester during the opening of the student show, so I suppose they chose the best piece I had made that got in.” 

​Senior Maria Dominguez had three of her pieces selected. Exploring different mediums, she decided to submit works in print, charcoal, and her newfound love: ceramics.

​“I had three ceramics classes and by the third one, I felt I was pretty good at it and comfortable with it. I made some good pieces in my clay sculpture class, and I submitted one of my clay sculptures. It was a phenomenal piece, so I was able to put that one in and it got selected,” Dominguez said. 

​The artwork featured in the gallery is decided by three jurors. The jurors are unaffiliated with FGCU and change each year. Local artist and FGCU donor Alice Fjelstul, Gallery Manager for the Alliance of the Arts Emily Radomski, and Exhibition Manager for the Naples Botanical Garden Kristen Kerwin took on the task. 

Loscuito’s beginning stages of the 25th Annual Juried Student Art Exhibition. (Alex Cavalier)

“We don’t want jurors who know the students themselves or their work because there could be bias,” Loscuito said. “Having three independent jurors come in is a way to not only eliminate that eternal bias but also have three separate voices that they have to agree on.”

​The trio narrowed 185 submissions to 72 selected artworks. A list of all the submissions can be found on the current season’s website.

​“We were all paying attention to the technique and how successful the students were in their specific mediums,” Radomski said. “We tried to make sure we had some of every different medium represented. Then, within each medium, we picked ones that were technically done more successfully.”

​Once the pieces are selected, Loscuito can begin setting up the gallery. 

​“It’s fairly straightforward in that the two-dimensional works are laid out on the wall and the rest we find pedestals for. I typically will lay out the works to get a sense of space and see how much we are dealing with. Then, I ask our student workers to step in and look at the different types of pieces, the content, the color, the texture, the scale, and all the formal elements, and try to create some harmony and cohesiveness from piece to piece and from wall to wall,” he said. 

​Works accepted into the juried exhibition will be on display from March 23 through April 6.